It's time for a change!

The important thing is the correct angle of view

by Stefanie Huisgen,  2012/07/13

“It is Sunday, 8 July 2012. One week has passed since the enthusiastically awaited final of the European Football Championship between Spain and Italy in Europe, and since the Spanish team achieved a clear victory that once more proved which nation is currently playing Europe’s best football.

Before her departure to Uganda, humedica employee Stefanie Huisgen was in football fever. Now, however, she sees things from a different angle. Photo: humedica/Heidi Nicklin

During the past few weeks, everything seemed to be about the round object that needs to go into the square object, as everyone knows. No topic in the news seemed more important than the German team’s next line-up, the best game plan to beat the opponents, or the insignificant reason for the argument between Mehmet Scholl and Mario Gomez. Important topics that seemed to shake the world – at least in Europe. It was once more time to “Celebrate the Day”, as singer Herbert Grönemeyer had already stated in the identically-named song he had composed for the Football World Championship two years ago.

What was happening in other parts of the world at the same time was considered to be of minor importance and faded from the media spotlight. Now, that there no longer is a danger of infection with collective football fever, we may hope that public attention, not only of the media, will once more focus on topics of real importance. Of global importance. The world is a village; that is the motto of this era of globalisation. It grows closer together, and despite huge distances, networks between people are stronger than in the past.

Everyone who has grown up in a small village in the country knows what life in such a village is usually like: everyone knows each other, greets each other, is interested in each other – and helps each other. So, if the world is turning into a village, isn't the natural consequence that everyone in our world should be interested in the concerns of their fellow humans – at least up to some degree? And that we should be there for each other and help each other in difficult times?

Help for the victims of an ongoing, but apparently forgotten conflict

Anyway, European media publish alarmingly little information about the current events at the Congolese-Ugandan border. Nobody seems to be really interested in the problems of the conflict area. Since 1996, rebels in the east of the country have been fighting for independence of particular provinces.

During the past week, these fights between government troops and the leading so-called M23 Rebel Group within the Congo have intensified in the region at the border to Uganda. As a consequence, within a period of only two days, 5,000 Congolese civilians passed the border city of Bunagana in order to seek refuge in their neighbouring country.

The old conflict is fought out with varying degrees of vehemence and violence and again and again it culminates in extremely bloody excesses – to the cost of the local population. Already in May of this year, bloody riots in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had triggered an enormous increase in the number of refugees – according to the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), almost 13,000 persons fled to Uganda in this month. They found refuge and some peace at the Nyakabande temporary refugee camp, which is located at about ten kilometres into the country, close to Kisoro.

Due to the continuing high number of refugees, and for the first time in four years, humedica is once more active in this region, which is shaken by misery and hardship, and by means of providing medical staff and drugs supports the work of the medical relief organisation Medical Teams International (MTI) that is active in Uganda. In face of the rapid doubling of the number of refugees in Nyakabande to the current number of 12,460 persons, every helping hand is welcome – in particular as the capacity of the transit camp, which is designed for 6,500 refugees, is more than fully stretched.

The high number of refugees becomes noticeable above all at the health station. The waiting room in the little building is occupied to the last seat; many patients are leaning against the walls, or are queuing up in a line in front of the registration. A total of over 50 persons, among them many children, are patiently waiting for their treatment. Nowadays, almost all of the patients are Congolese refugees; less than 10 Ugandan patients per day attend the health station. This is a state of emergency.

Focussing on the essential

In face of the over 20,000 refugees, who have fled their homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and have saved their lives by crossing the border to Uganda since January, topics like the European Football Championship inevitably lose their explosiveness and glamour. Seeing the conditions under which the refugees live in their tents, not knowing if they will ever be able to return to their homes, makes one see things from a different angle.

In the light of the tragic fate these people are suffering, quite a few of the prevailing topics in the Western world seem by far less important and relevant. There is such a large number of news that fills our daily newspapers, is taken up by news broadcasts and discussed in one’s personal environment, but which on closer consideration seems to be of very insignificant importance, or virtually irrelevant.

It’s time for a change – please help us to achieve that. Photo: humedica/Stefanie Huisgen

How important can a detailed report about the Football Championship or about the stars and starlets of the world of celebrities be before the background of the traumatic experiences of the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Haven’t the refugees’ difficult living conditions deserved more attention?

These people have lost their homes, their houses, their belongings and often also family members. It is impossible to imagine what is going on in the refugees’ minds! Can we really take responsibility for these suffering people also losing our attention? The attention of those persons who could improve their situation in various different ways?

It most definitely is time for a change! It is time to see things from a different angle, to focus on what is really important and relevant to all of us. If we want to stick to the topic of the introduction: it is time not only to be interested in the winner of the European Football Championship, but for example also in the question what a football looks like in a Ugandan refugee camp.

A self-made round object made of straw, held together with parcel strings – it is true that necessity is the mother of invention. Just a little example for a piece of normality that the children at camp have regained by using very simple means.

Anyway, the patience of the refugees at Nyakabande is admirable. Together with their children they sit in little groups and wait for the next steps, come to terms with their experiences. Without having consciously asked it, when looking at these people you receive an answer to the question of what is really important in life: family, solidarity, safety, protection. Football is most definitely offside.”

Football is a team sport. Players can rely on each other and the entire game is about acting as a team. Please join forces and efforts in order to help us offer the best possible support to those persons who had to flee the war in Uganda. To extend a helping hand. To form a team with them.

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Refugee Aid Uganda
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren
      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

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