Australia for UNHCR National Director, Naomi Steer, led a small field mission to Uganda in August to visit some key field projects that Australia for UNHCR has initiated and funded.

The group visited projects, both present and future, and saw how the projects we have previously helped to establish – schools, vocational training centres and livelihood programs – continue to thrive and enrich the lives of long-term refugees.

Travelling with Naomi Steer was Kate Dundas, a Member of our Board of Directors, and Pamela Gilbert who, as part of our Women’s Projects committee, has been a driving force in our work in women’s health and livelihood.

"We have seen how refugees are taken into Uganda and cared for in a compassionate way,” said Kate Dundas, speaking from Kyaka 2 refugee settlement in south-west Uganda, where Australia for UNHCR is preparing to fund a new vocational training centre for young refugees. “Small enterprises like credit and saving organisations are helping refugees make their own livelihoods and start businesses.”

“It was also excellent to witness the direct impact Australia for UNHCR is having on the ground. At a Nakivale refugee settlement school, for example, there are four buildings funded by Australia for UNHCR donations, and the project continues to develop further,” continued Kate.

Australia for UNHCR National Director, Naomi Steer (right), with Board of Directors member Kate Dundas (middle) and Women’s Projects committee member, Pamela Gilbert (left).

Return to Nakivale

Naomi was pleased to see how else our support is helping young refugees in Nakivale.

“Australia for UNHCR was the founding donor for the settlement’s only secondary school back in 2010. The school started with about 145 students and the headmaster told me today that there are now over 1000 students attending the school. In the six years since it was built, there have been many hundreds of graduates who wouldn’t have had that opportunity without the support of Australian donors.”

“The computer training and access centre we established in Nakivale is also doing well."

Nakivale secondary school

"It’s a great example of us kick starting a project that is now self-sustaining and run entirely by a refugee management committee.”

Computer training and access centre in Nakivale

Ongoing Needs

The group saw the challenges facing refugee services operating on small budgets in communities that are poor and in remote locations.

With her interest in refugee women’s health, Pamela Gilbert was concerned to see a refugee health centre functioning without running water or electricity.

“There is a fantastic team of people here that work 24 hours a day,” she said. I’m absolutely amazed at their dedication to all the refugees that come here. We really need some more support here, to get electricity, to help get running water and to kit out a maternity ward. There is only a small maternal health and maternity section. If any mother has a problem, there is an ambulance to take them to hospital but the nearest one is hours away.”

See further images and learn more about the mission to Uganda on the Australia for UNHCR Facebook page.

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