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    Building a space where refugees can seek help

    DAY 27

    Protection Center

    ARC’s team in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement includes 25 volunteers. Some are refugees and some are Ugandan. The Ugandan volunteers come from all over the country, as far away as Mbale (an 8+ hour bus ride) and as close as Yumbe which is just down the road. Every morning they gather and – after an hour’s drive – they are dropped off one by one, section by section, to meet the community and help them understand and get access to services.

    When the volunteers meet with refugees, they are often having quite sensitive conversations about violence or other trauma. But at the moment these conversations are happening on a log, under a tree out in the open. Day 27 was dedicated to constructing a protection center – a dedicated space where refugees can feel safe and secure sharing their experiences and their needs with the ARC team.


    Vivienne is a Ugandan with a heart to help. 24 years old, Vivienne has been working with the team for two months and serves a section of Bidi Bidi called Ariwa 1. Every day she talks to dozens of women, children and vulnerable refugees. They talk about how they’re doing, the challenges they face, the terrible things they’re enduring after running from their homes in South Sudan.

    “It’s passion,” Vivienne says. “When you see the vulnerability of these people… along the way you meet them, and you see there’s a need and a way to help them. And since I’m here, why don’t I volunteer to help them? I can help them feel better, to be open and also feel the way we are – secure and safe.”

    With limited funds – a few hundred dollars – we were able to create a space where people could feel confident and comfortable. We hired a dozen carpenters -refugees themselves – to build a temporary protection center for Vivienne and the vulnerable refugees she helps on a daily basis.


    The carpenters broke ground under the hot sun, burying posts deep into the ground, preparing to wrap tightly tarps that will protect Vivienne and the refugees she helps from the heat. Vivienne is often told very sensitive information, including struggles with domestic violence. The new structure won’t just help protect from the sun; it will help Vivienne have sensitive conversations with victims of violence so they can get the help they need.


    Over the next week, the ARC team will construct four more Protection Centers in four more sections of Bidi Bidi, and all for less than $500.

    This shelter can be like a sign post. The first thing I do in the morning is I walk around, visit their homes, find out how they’re doing. Now, if there is need, I can tell them, “You know what, find me there. Please come over, let’s talk. Let’s see what’s up.”


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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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