I lost my home to floods

William Biregho Bahati (56) sitting in the ruins of his former house.

Bahati William Biragho is a 56 year old resident of Kilembe mines camp in Kasese District. Before living in the Kilembe mines camp, he had his own home below the Rwenzori Mountain ranges. His home was composed of two four-bedroomed houses. He also had a pigsty, vanilla, apple, coffee, pineapples, and banana plantation.

Bahati is a husband and father of 8 children. The floods first began in 2013, overflowing from the Rwenzori ranges but never affected their family until a fateful day in May of 2019, when the floods came accompanied by fast-rolling rocks
‘’It was 12 am on 8th May 2019 when my family and I were sleeping. I was woken up by heavy running water. I went outside only to see my livestock destroyed by water descending towards my home.’’ recalled Bahati.

Bahati says that he then went back into the house and woke up his family members. Together they ran off with only a mattress to Masule Primary school, which is nearby. They were joined by others from their neighborhood, gripped with fear, scared that the floods may extend to the primary school and destroy them.

They were unable to save any of their property after the floods had swept away and destroyed their home, including the piggery farm and their plantation.

‘’My heart sunk upon seeing how unrecognizable our home and gardens had become, my family and I have lived in fear and anxiety since then, wondering what to do next,’’ Bahati shared.

After two days of the continuous floods, they eventually stopped though Bahati and his family could no longer return to the wreckage that was once their home. They were given food by well-wishers before they received relief from the government which included soap, food, and mosquito nets.

Bahati and his family had to figure out where to go. Together with other victims of the flooding, they occupied Masule primary school since schools were not operational during the lockdown. While in the school, Bahati says they shared one room with five other households which was a challenge.

Seven months later, the survivors of the floods, including Bahati’s family, were informed by the school management of Masule primary school that they needed to leave the school premises since schools had resumed after the lockdown. The family ended up at Kilembe mines camp.

However, Bahati was unable to support his children’s education since he had lost his source of livelihood and income. He further entrusted them with relatives and family friends to enable him to rebuild a livelihood.

Due to the trauma of losing their home, two of his elder children who attempted to do their final high school examinations struggled academically and dropped out of school. Bahati and his older children now do casual jobs such as picking coffee and selling firewood for income to sustain themselves in the camp.

Bahati hopes to buy another piece of land someday to build a new home for his family.