Catherine Mahony, one of our Emergency Response Officers, writes:
I often feel that life in refugee camps is misrepresented. I don’t like the images of camps we see on television, in which people always look sad and helpless. I know why we are only shown the horror: it’s undeniably awful that people have had to run from their homes because they’re being bombed, that they’ve had to walk for a month to find safety, that they’re tired and sick and don’t have enough food. But that isn’t the whole picture.
I met Samia Hussein because the beautiful stoves she was selling made me stop in my tracks. We were in the marketplace in Yusuf Batil refugee camp in South Sudan, home to more than 35,000 people who have fled fighting in Blue Nile State in Sudan. Samia was selling portable, energy-efficient stoves that were made from donkey dung, for about 50p each.
When I approached her, she was stirring a big pot of okra stew that she was planning to sell that night, but she smiled and welcomed me into her shelter. She told me that she, her husband and her two sons had fled from their village last September. “We were being bombed,” she said and mimed the Antonov planes that had roared overhead. Since then, the family had travelled on foot, with almost no possessions, before arriving in Batil this June.
I asked Samia how she was finding life in Batil. Given how difficult I knew things were in the camp, I was surprised by her response: “It’s good,” she said, smiling. Continue reading