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    Welcome to CM 365, doing the doable

    DAY 1

    Nakivale Safe House

    Welcome to Changemakers 365! We’re kicking things off in SW Uganda at Nakivale Refugee Settlement.

    The Safe Houses at Nakivale are meant as places of sanctuary and rest. They’re intended for those who are – for whatever reason – no longer safe in their homes in the settlement. Guests may have suffered trauma or violence, and they urgently need some place to go to be safe while they and ARC staff work together on what to do next. The safe houses most often provide a haven for women and their children who have nowhere else.

    The Safe Houses in Nakivale are spartan – a floor, roof, and walls. The rooms are empty, the floors bare. They provide physical protection from danger and from the elements – but not much else. They don’t address the emotional trauma that women seeking shelter have experienced.

    A few Changemakers thought the safe house could be a lot better and wanted to make it happen – their idea for the 2016 Changemakers Competition was to do a “Safe House Makeover” and this seemed like a great place to start 365 days of changemaking.


    The rooms don’t have any of the basics of a safe and comfortable home – no furniture, no beds, no opportunities for reflection. And this is what we want to change. Because as ARC Nakivale staff member Hope said, “if it’s not habitable, they cease to be safe houses.”

    Our aim is to ultimately make these Safe Houses a place of comfort, a place of healing. A place where people who are running from home can find peace and rest in a calming environment. And we’ll do it one Safe House at a time…starting in the village of Robundo inside Nakivale Refugee Settlement.

    This Safe House is composed of two bare bones rooms that have seen better days – the windows are matted with dirt, the walls grimy from the dust and mud, the curtains threadbare.


    So, our very first Changemakers 365 project seemed pretty straightforward: see what we can make happen with some elbow grease, cleaning supplies and community volunteers who want to create a welcoming and safe place for women and children in their community. And it was amazing.

    Neighbors pulled on their gum boots and got to work with soap and water. People kept coming – to wash the walls and sweep the floors – it was inspiring to see. And as the dust and dirt ran away, revealing brighter walls beneath, it seemed as if the neighbors were realizing for the first time what they could accomplish together.

    Already the Safe Houses are cleaner, brighter, and more livable spaces. And the community’s excitement was plain to see. Smiles were abundant, help easy to come by. With enthusiasm, minute by minute a new beginning was revealed for the Safe House in Robundo, making clear that a new start was possible, and that they were a part of it. Sometimes that first step makes all the difference.

    Tomorrow, work at the Safe House continues…


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    Changemakers 365

    by Alight


    The world’s tough problems can seem insurmountable. So at Alight, while we tackle those big problems we also do what’s doable. Right then. And that’s what Changemakers 365 is all about. Learn more!


    Changemakers 365 members give either $30 per month or a one-time gift of $365 (it’s free for anyone who has ever lived in a refugee camp). Join us!

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