- Save the Children engaged the refugee and the host community in cash for work projects where they later opened different kinds of businesses in the settlement
- Last year in December, Taban’s hope almost faded as he would starve with his three children without food due to rationing and he didn’t have alternative source of income
- But for one of the refugees, Joyce Konga, now deals in assorted goods business in one of the markets established by Save the Children in Ombechi camp
Yumbe. Kasim Abibu Taban fled from South Sudan last year with virtually nothing to feed his three children and a wife.
He left his business in South Sudan and there is no future of getting it back in case he returns. Life in the camp has been difficult from November last year as he relied on food rations from World Food Program and other refugee agencies.
But the business ideas he had, did not die out. Now Abibu has set up a Salon in the settlement camp in Yumbe district to make him earn a living.
Abibu, 26, was lucky to exploit his skills after acquiring cash from Save the Children. ”In the first phase of cash for work project, I was given Shs 420,000 and in the second phase, I received Shs 280,000. I used part of the money for domestic issues and I saved Shs 480,000 to start the saloon business. I was idle in the camp but now I can earn Shs 30,000 per day from the saloon business,” he said.
Taban charges his clients from Shs 500-Shs 3500 depending on the type of haircuts and his plan is to expand the business and employ some people to run the business adding that he has realized a lot of changes as compared to the previous moments.
“I now feel like I am a Ugandan though my parents are in Juba. This time I don’t mind of the food ratio given to me because of the booming business and I want to utilise this opportunity given by save the children to earn a living,” Taban said.
Some of the cash for work projects the beneficiaries used as a stepping stone to their businesses are tree planting, road maintenance, garbage collection and rubbish pit construction in the settlement.
There are more than 2 million South Sudanese refugees living in Uganda, fleeing a nearly four-year civil war that has split supporters of President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, against former Vice President Riek Machar, of the Nuer ethnic group.
More than one-quarter of the refugees live in Bidi-Bidi, which opened in August 2016. Bidi-bidi has about 285,000 South Sudan refugees as per the earlier registration.
“It has not been easy, especially when the food ratio you we get are over,” he recounts before revealing how he labored to get capital for starting his saloon business.
Mr Taban operates with a 200-watt solar panel that has made him witness improvement in his livelihood at Bidi-Bidi refugee settlement. He earns Shs30, 000 from the saloon business on daily basis.
Refugees in Bidi Bidi struggle to earn an income. While many rely on rations from the UN World Food Program, and some sell a portion of their rations to afford sugar, soap and other items, energetic youth, men and women prefers to be engaged in Save the Children’s ‘cash for work’, where Save the Children pays cash to refugees and host community in exchange for their labor.
Similarly, Joyce Konga a mother to four children who came with nothing from South Sudan experienced hard life with her family but the intervention of Save the Children with business ideas was a sigh of relief for her.
“When I started the business, I have seen change in my home because I can use the profits generated from the business to buy other necessities like clothes, meat, sugar. I received Shs 144,000 under cash for work project and Shs 284,000 for the business but I decided to invest all this money in the business and I earn Shs 10,000-15,000 daily from the business,” she said.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony for the beneficiaries at Ariwa reception centre in Zone five on Thursday, Mr Albert Okwai the acting manager for save the children said a total of 500 beneficiaries were supported under cash for work project, micro businesses, vocational support and village savings and Loan association who underwent vetting process and the project was funded by Japanese government and UNDP
He said 400 beneficiaries were able to get a total cash grant of Shs 700,000 per person and 100 beneficiaries received Shs 420,000 each as a business start-up capital.