I DECIDED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN MY COMMUNITY –MARK CHARLES
By Peter Sitaku
Mark Charles is a 24-year-old South Sudanese refugee married with 2 children, residing in Kasonga Village block 31 Zone A, Kyangwali refugee settlement. Originally from Upari village, Maiwi sub-county in South Sudan, Mark fled South Sudan in 2014 when fighting broke out, and he settled in Kyangwali settlement, where one of the major challenges he and the refugee community faced was limited access to safe and clean water. He narrates his experience and how he turned the situation around for himself and his community.
“Ever since I arrived, water shortage has been a problem,” Mark noted, adding, “The whole village of Kasonga has only 5 hand pump boreholes which are over-populated by thousands of people and this has been causing frequent break downs and more serious crisis for safe water.”
“Having seen the cry of my community for breakdowns of boreholes, not only in the village but also in other parts of the settlement, I decided to visit the Oxfam office and I asked them to train at least 3 of us in repairing handpumps to support the community on time. I was so happy when the Oxfam Field Engineer readily accepted the proposal.
We trained for 4 days and after the training, we moved with the engineers in the field for 3 days where we repaired 8 boreholes. Right now I and my other 3 team members are skilled and equipped at repairing hand pump boreholes all over the settlement and even surrounding host community areas, where we are now well known. I consider myself a great timely rescuer for my community because when they call me, I go quickly and I ensure that the hand pump boreholes are functional. This restores my happiness.”
With funding from European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), Oxfam started responding to the South Sudanese and DRC refugees in Kyangwali refugee settlement, as the UNHCR implementing Partner for Water supply, sanitation and hygiene from 1st January 2020 to date. The settlement has a total of 98 hand pumps spread across different zones and villages and this contributes 30-35% accessibility to safe water for consumption for persons of concerns within Kyangwali refugee settlement.