“Muzungu, Muzungu!”

Refugee children have not forgotten how to laugh

by Stefanie Huisgen,  2012/07/06

“Coordination of the diverse relief measures at the Nyakabande refugee camp is running at full speed. During numerous talks humedica coordinator Heidi Nicklin has exchanged opinions about the possibilities of offering humanitarian aid and made decisions together with representatives of the Ugandan government and employees of relief organisations active in the country, above all UNHCR.

Soon, a doctor and a nurse will arrive in Kisoro. They will complement the humedica team and after their arrival they will offer first medical treatment to refugees at the health station.

In the framework of organising and coordinating the relief measures, we have visited Nyakabande already two times. We were particularly surprised by the positive atmosphere prevailing at camp. Under the given circumstances, this is certainly not to be taken for granted. People greet us or nod to us in a friendly way. Above all the children are beside themselves with excitement when they see us and they greet us with cheerful calls of “Muzungu, Muzungu!”.

In contrast to those present at the camp, be it refugees or relief assistants, we immediately draw everyone’s attention due to our white skin. Therefore it is not hard to guess that “Muzungu” means “white person”.

Every time I take out my camera in order to take a photo of the little boys and girls, who are delighted to pose in front of the lens, and when they crowd around me afterwards in order to look at the pictures on the display, the contrast between our skin colours becomes particularly obvious.

Everyone wants to have a look at the photographic result and the children hoot with laughter when they recognise themselves in the picture. When we made a tour around the temporary camp in order to get to know more about its structures, we were accompanied by a large bunch of children.

This man took his sewing machine, his only basis of existence, with him when he fled to Uganda. Photo: humedica/Stefanie Husigen

In comparison to the rather unspectacular every-day life at camp, our visit seemed to be kind of an attraction. During the tour some children gave me conspiratorial winks, pointed their fingers first at themselves, then at the camera – all of them wanted to have a photo taken!

It is amazing that, despite the dismal conditions they live in, these little humans have not forgotten how to laugh and make a cheerful impression on us. Before our arrival we would never have expected this kind of reaction. After all at their young age the children have already gone trough one of the worst experiences that exist in our world: they have lost their homes and hence also part of their identity.

Furthermore, many children fled to Uganda without their parents; either are they orphans or they have lost their mothers and fathers during the confusions of the flight. Some of them have relatives at camp who can take care of them, others are left to their own devices at Nyakabande together with their siblings.

Yesterday morning, during our second visit, we met a girl, hardly more than eight years old, who carried a little child on her back and told us that she also had to take care of several more sisters and brothers. So much responsibility for such a tender, small being!

Please support the people at Nyakabande and in particular the children in these difficult times, contribute to giving them back a little normality and enable them to find a way into a better and safer future by means of making a targeted donation for the Refugee Aid Uganda. Thank you very much.

      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

A smile helps reduce distance. A smile helps overcome all the terrible experiences. Photo: humedica/Stefanie Huisgen

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