"We are given beans we cannot cook and maize we cannot grind."
Continued from last week, Donny and Sarah share more of their interview with pastors Moses and Santos, who are working to improve lives in refugee camps in Uganda.
We asked Moses and Santos what they wanted Americans to know about what life is like in a refugee camp in Uganda. Moses responded reluctantly with the comment, "we are given beans we cannot cook and maize we cannot grind." This was not at all said ungratefully. Moses and Santos are glad for the generosity Uganda and NGOs has provided them, but there are so many refugees now, there is only so much that can be done by Uganda. Refugees in this camp are allotted a portion of beans and corn each month, and this is what they rely on for food. While Moses has been able to receive donations from food banks in the United States to give food to supplement vulnerable refugees such as Alice and her family and child-headed households, most families are reliant solely on the beans and corn, which does not meet nutritional or dietary needs of any human. The only means refugees have to provide their families food, education, and any other need they have is either a food ration of maize and beans or a monthly allotment of 31,000 shillings, approximately $8.38 USD. If refugees receive the food allowance, then they must sell part of their ration in order to pay for shoes or any material they might need for their family, including materials to cook the maize and beans like firewood. Moses is currently seeking ways to improve these circumstances; for instance, by seeking to implement innovative farming techniques by building a greenhouse on land he is hoping to purchase and by providing training to women in the camps through activities such as sewing.
Amid these huge challenges, Moses and Santos see hope for the future. As the Israelites' time in exile provided time for them to learn and raise a new generation of followers of God, Moses sees how God may raise a new generation of South Sudanese to create peace and spread love in the future of their country. Already, he has seen how children of former enemy tribes in South Sudan are now forming bonds of friendship.
While spending time in a refugee camp it is impossible for one’s mind not to instantly turn to the many passages about how we must care for the “foreigners, fatherless, and widows.” After spending time with Moses, he is someone I hope to connect with in ministry. One of my ministry aims is empowering people like Moses to provide the holistic love of Christ to refugees in their contexts, to empower refugees to serve refugees.
Donny and Sarah have begun a nonprofit ministry called 838 Coffee to raise funds for the completion of projects in Ugandan refugee camps through the sale of specialty Ugandan coffee. Each 6 oz. bag of coffee from a farm in viewing distance from the refugee camp will be sold at $8.38 (the amount a refugee receives for one month of living expenses). Email firstname.lastname@example.org to preorder coffee for you or a friend! All money raised from this project goes directly to Christian leaders in South Sudanese refugee camps, so they can empower their community by putting kids in school.
You may also donate directly to these Christian leaders serving their fellow refugees here.