Stranded on the Route to Uganda

  • Thirty-year-old Viola Roba fled along with her two children from South Sudan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to bring herself and her children to safety. Her husband didn’t survive.

    Photo: Nyokabi Kahura/Malteser International

Thirty-year-old Viola Roba found a bed in a church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Two weeks ago, she took both her children and fled from South Sudan to safety. Her husband didn’t make it. Now Viola has arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with her two small children, without any family, without any friends. She would like to continue on to Uganda, as she doesn’t see any prospects for herself and her two children in the Congo. The people here only have what they need to survive. There aren’t any organized refugee camps in Azu, either. But without any money, she doesn’t know how to manage the nearly 100 kilometers to reach Uganda. Azu is a small village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, not far from the border to South Sudan. The terrain is flat, and it gets extremely hot and dusty during the dry season. The streets are hardly developed, and traveling by car is slow. Rusty wrecks left by the side of the road serve as testimonies to the fact that not all cars reach their destinations. During the rainy season, these routes are hardly passable. There are only a few fields, and wild bushes decorate the scenery. It is with great effort that the Congolese people try to farm the most essential things for survival. Corn, sorghum tomatoes, zucchini and eggplants grow here; when the rainy season arrives on time. The people who live here don’t have much. A little while ago, a tobacco factory closed and left many people to poverty. Malnutrition and insufficient medical treatment have become a large problem, since many people simply cannot afford visiting the doctor any more.

Nevertheless, refugees from South Sudan are welcome here. As the Congolese know all too well what it’s like to flee from violence and unrest. Refugees find shelter wherever they can find a little space. Thirty-year-old Viola Roba found a bed in a church. Two weeks ago, she took both her children and fled with them from South Sudan to get them to safety. Her husband didn’t survive. He was shot shortly before they could escape. “Nobody is safe anymore is South Sudan. They are slaughtering people.” She set out with her small children on a motorcycle, but there was an accident and her son’s foot was badly injured. The motorcycle fell on top of the three-year-old boy. He now has a deep wound on his left foot. A doctor in the health center of Adi treats the open wound. Viola has tears running down her face as her son Nelson Mandela screams in pain.

  • Eighteen-year-old Patience Lemingo has come to the hospital with her sick baby. Thanks to help from Malteser International, she can pay the fees that would otherwise have been very high.

    Photo: Nyokabi Kahura/Malteser International

The Dream of Peaceful Uganda

“As refugees, we didn’t have to pay anything for treatment, and I am so grateful for that, because I wouldn’t have even known what to do otherwise. Nelson would have had to walk around with a wound like that. We don’t have any money for a doctor”, Viola Roba says in a low voice. Viola fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo only with her two children, without any other family, without any friends. She would actually like to continue on to Uganda, for she sees no prospects for herself and her two children here. The Congolese themselves only have what is most necessary to survive here. There aren’t any organized refugee camps in Azu, either. But without any money, she doesn’t know how she will manage the nearly 100 kilometers to Uganda. Many refugees here dream of reaching Uganda, as it is safe and peaceful there. But Violas daughter Ayuzu is only two months old and with Nelson as well, the route to Uganda on foot is way too far. In Uganda, refugees from South Sudan receive a patch of land they can farm themselves, and the UN gives them the materials to build a hut. Malteser International provides water for the refugees there, and helps them plant food. This way, people can to flee to safety and have a new livelihood – at least as long as there is still enough room for all the Sudanese refugees.