I was scared to death - Esperanza's story

“I came to Kyakya II without my parents. I am here alone with my two younger brothers,” Esperanza, 16 years, says in a low voice. She arrived in Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in February 2018, escaping the violence.

“One day while my parents were working in the field, I was walking back home along the road with some of my friends and my brothers. We are ten children in the family and I am the only girl. Out of nowhere, soldiers appeared in front us. They had guns and machetes,” Esperanza explains. Her face is showing no emotion, the only thing betraying her are the slightly trembling hands.

“I was scared to death,” she says. “I thought they would kidnap all of us but they took only the older ones in the group. They didn’t show particular interest in me so I grabbed my two brothers by their hands and ran away as fast as I could.

“The journey to Uganda was so difficult but we made it. Now I am here in Kyakya II taking care of my two brothers, a six and a four-year old. I don’t know how my parents are and if they are still alive. Same goes for my seven brothers who remained in the DRC. I miss them so much,” admits Esperanza.

“We are living in peace here, nobody disturbs us. Life is so hard though. If there is no help coming in from various organisations we spend days without having food. Also, we are not used to eating the kind of food Ugandans eat. My brothers don’t like the food I prepare for them from the food available here which makes taking care for them even more difficult.”

Esperanza says that one day she would like to go back to school. This is one of her biggest hopes for the future. In the DRC, she stopped studying a couple of years ago because her father could not afford paying for school fees anymore. “My dream is to become a nurse and be able to help people,” she reveals.

Since late December 2017, the situation in Kyaka II has dramatically changed, with increasing numbers of new arrivals from DR Congo arriving via border crossings in South Western Uganda and transferring to Kyaka II through Nyakabande transit center. Total refugees and asylum seekers in country as of 30th June 2018 are at 1,470,981.  Between Jan 2018 – 16th July 2018, 92,650 new arrivals have been received. Information from the new refugees suggests more may be expected.

Oxfam is on the ground, among other things providing gender and protection activities to ensure children like Esperanza feel safe and protected as they rebuild their lives.  

Oxfam started its operations in Kyakya II refugee settlement at the end of February 2018, after thousands of refugees flooded into Uganda’s refugee settlements with renewed violence in the DRC.

In Kyakya II, Oxfam is focusing on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects to reduce public health risks such as cholera outbreaks and typhoid; improving food security and livelihoods; as well as gender and protection activities such as raising awareness about sexual and gender-based violence.