It is a good idea to accommodate refugees. Because today it is their day, tomorrow it may be yours. If you don’t accommodate them it is bad spirit. It is good to live together. And we should continue to accommodate people who are coming.
Portrayal of aid recipient communities within Western media too often frames communities as passive victims of circumstance. A key theme raised by participants during Stories from Rhino Camp was the very active role community are taking not only to respond to environmental challenges, but also how host communities have facilitated the integration of refugees into Uganda.
Participants highlighted many issues linked to the theme of community, but emphasised two key themes which had the most significant impact on how community is shaped in the area: refugee integration and gender inequality.
According to me everyone should be treated like a human being. No matter if you are a refugee or national. Because it is a situation where somebody has come to your home with problems. Then you have to provide a good place because they have problems. And with NGOs they should not segregate between nationals and refugees. That is the best way.
We have all benefited from the settlement of refugees because markets are near, even the health centres and schools are being brought to us. And sometimes, even during dry season, the food that is bought for the refugees, they sell, so if you don’t have food at home you go buy and come back and you have that kind of food coming.
We have good relationships with the nationals. Because when we came, before we don’t know each other. And from there it was challenging. The language they are using since at that time we don’t know the languages, indeed it was a big problem. We find that women are forever fighting at the borehole... Someone will come and say this is my land and so on. Because we don’t understand each other. They may say something and we feel they want to fight us. When we talk they may also think we want to fight. But slowly through our interaction and our good staying, we learnt the local language. Now the little we know, we have that communication. Even more our children now speak the local language more than our language.
If the whole world can take how refugees are treated here in Uganda, where there is freedom of movement it would be good. And also given land for them to grow something - especially food... When I was here it was not like other parts of the world where refugees are not allowed to move anyhow. I talked to those one who went to Kenya, and they told us they were fenced in one place. Unless you want to go to town which means you have to get a permit. But here in Uganda we are free to move, even during the day and night. We attend discos with nationals. We dance with them together. Time for leisure we are together with them. Although we don't know the local language which is Lugbara. But we still interact with those ones that can speak English, and there are also some who can speak Arabic. I think us staying here is good.
Gender inequality is a significant issue raised by female photographers, with alcoholism amongst some men in the community causing increasing problems. Reduced yields as a result of climate change and unresolved trauma from the war often manifest within households and it is women who have to ensure essential farm and household work is completed.
With few government services available to victims of domestic violence, farming and savings groups provide food and financial security which have allowed women to leave abusive relationships. Further to narratives presented in the agriculture gallery, farm and savings groups are not only of material benefit, but are a critical social support network for women. Through the images and narratives, photographers were able to show how women support each other while carrying the burden of work.
Women in the community are being overworked because they are doing each and every work that is needed. For men they are selective about what work they do.
They are generally isolated issues. There are homes that are doing well. But in homes where there are problems you will usually find alcohol causing these things.
Of late the good thing is that women are involving themselves in saving groups. Even if you don’t have a big income you would go for some work and bring little money which you would save as part of the saving group. I feel this could help to overcome problems in the home - violence in the home. The money you save now can bring you income in the future. That is the good part of women in the community right now.
Sometimes it happens that the man will try to prove to be big and refuse to do some work. Then you as the women continue to do the work yourself. But when the yield is out, he then becomes the boss of everything. By selling, and taking the money and giving very little for the woman which may not be enough money for the home. And this money he manages the rest of it.