Take a step on World Refugee Day.

Take a step on World Refugee Day.

#StepWithRefugees

About Jean Paul:

JEAN PAUL is just like any other youth.
 
Jean Paul is from the African nation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He moved to Uganda when he was a child because of some disruption in his birth nation. He has lived in Uganda since his move and now he calls it his home. He truly is at home; he studies in Uganda, his girlfriend is in Uganda, his work as a merchant in between school terms is in Uganda, and he can’t wait to begin his university studies in Uganda. He fell in love with his favorite sport, football, in Uganda, and plays religiously with his classmates. And like other youth, he has high aspirations; Jean Paul’s aspiration is to find a job anywhere he can - outside of the refugee camp where he has lived since a child. Jean Paul is just like any other youth; the only difference is that he is confined as a refugee.
 
Equality is: Jean Paul

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I had the opportunity to meet and work with Jean Paul during a youth empowerment camp I supported as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Jean Paul lives in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in SW Uganda. He lives alone as the only child of parents who lost their lives in the conflict ongoing in his home country. Nevertheless, Jean Paul is not alone. He is one of many children, youth, and adults who have similar stories and have come to call their refugee communities homes. Taking displacement in stride, the communities aren’t places of hopelessness. Jean Paul is a bright example of that. He has ambitions, he works hard and studies harder. He has a girlfriend as they think together about advanced education and future settling down plans. The opportunity he most desires is to leave the refugee community and integrate into a proper country society, but there are restrictions to doing so. I won’t go into further details about his story, because it is not entirely my story to tell.
 
There are millions of stories similar to this 23-year-old. There are 28 refugee settlements in Uganda itself. The Bidibidi settlement in Northern Uganda was actually classified as the largest settlement in the world in early 2017; it has since been overtaken by a settlement in Bangladesh. So, how do Ugandans support so many others when their own communities are in need of support? It is very altruistic of Ugandans to support refugees and include refugees as part of the greater Ugandan community, as it is also very difficult, because of an already limited amount of resources. The reason that refugees in Uganda are not just taken in but also supported by Ugandans is based on the concept of togetherness. The understanding that borders are map drawn. The belief that collective efforts for development, not leaving any one marginalized or vulnerable group out, will realize benefit for everyone.
To empower others, you first have to be empowered. Through supporting Ugandans, the domino effect takes place, where support to Ugandans is a domino that falls graciously to touch the lives of refugees whom they support in country.
Today is an opportunity to take a step with refugees, build awareness around a global issue, understand that the afflictions of some are impacted by others-can be impacted by others. Know that your impact has greater meaning to it, because the small things create a massive impact. And if you haven’t heard it before, the world is ever more interconnected. Your impact to support Uganda with lanterns is an indirect support for Uganda’s refugees, and those who don’t even have a place to truly call home.

P.S.
Our solar lantern implementation organization, Community Volunteer Initiative for Development (COVOID) now works in the Nakivale Refugee Camp in SW Uganda, to empower the refugee community. As they identify vulnerable villages, they have mentioned the community of Nakivale as a target community to empower with solar light. A refugee community is an extension of the country that hosts them. In the future, the hope is to provide solar lanterns to support the Nakivale refugees! An impact to eliminate candles and kerosene lighting in the camp and to reduce global carbon emissions contributed by the lighting sector. Today, they also celebrated World Refugee Day:

 

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