Teaching refugee children to grow their own healthy food

A violent, ongoing civil war in South Sudan has forced 2 million people in the last few years to flee to neighboring countries, with most settling in Uganda. It is estimated that over 85 percent of these refugees are women and children.

The Ugandan government has welcomed these refugees, giving them the right to work, attend school and access social services, but many of these South Sudanese refugees continue to face hardship in Uganda. With their lives uprooted, many families struggle to even feed their children.

This is where Amref Health Africa comes in. In Adjumani District, which has seen the highest influx of refugees in Uganda, we created a supplementary feeding program in 10 primary schools in communities hosting refugees. By doing this, we’re ensuring that the most vulnerable refugees – children – can access healthy and nutritious meals.

Through this program, we’ve been able to reach girls like Abuk who attends a school in Adjumani District. Here is her story:

“I am a refugee. I used to live in Juba City back home in South Sudan. When war broke out in the capital, I was forced to flee together with some of my family towards neighboring Uganda for safety. Unfortunately, a bomb took away the life of both my mother and father. I have four brothers and two sisters although I lost have contact with them.

In Uganda, I stay with my auntie who has five girls and one boy, who is the youngest at home. We depend on support from our uncle, but sometimes there isn’t enough food for all of us.

Last year, Amref Health Africa helped us set up a School Garden and taught us how to grow our own food. All the students were involved in preparing the land, planting, weeding, irrigation, pest-control and harvesting. I am so happy to have the garden because there are some crops such as onions, tomatoes and pumpkins which I previously did not know how to grow and look after. Now I am an expert at these crops.

At school, the garden has also helped to improve my academic performance. My science teacher often uses the garden as a learning center when he is teaching us about different types of crops.

I used the knowledge and skills I learned in school to grow crops on a small piece of land in our backyard. I have now harvested beans, tomatoes, onions and the paw-paw tree we planted is growing well. My auntie is very happy about this. We are now able to eat different types of food unlike previously when we used to eat the same type of food every time. I am now able to concentrate on my studies at school.

Today my family and I are happy because we now eat a more balanced diet. One day, I hope to go back to my homeland and share the same knowledge with my other relatives there. I will never forget Amref Health Africa because of the support given to me and other children.”

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