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A Tale of a Mother Who Has Been Reunited With Her Son

Saturday, 28 December 2019 13:12 Written by
Charles is hugged by his mother on the day of reunification

“After 6 days of not knowing where my son was, I thought he was dead.” A tale of a mother who has been reunited with her son after deadly floods displaced thousands in Bundibugyo.

During emergencies such as war, a disaster or any form of destruction, people become internally displaced or end up as refugees in foreign countries. Under such circumstances, families become detached. Family separation not only affects people physically but emotionally too. It is worse for differently abled people because in most cases they need help as they may not be able to move from one place to another.Children are another special category of people who are at risk or suffer worse effects of family separation because most times their safety is compromised. In armed conflict, they can end up being recruited into armed forces, they can be abducted, trafficked or even sexually abused. In some cases, they are put under foster care, and suffer injustices such as exploitation.

Uganda Red Cross with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross works to ensure that families separated by any of the above circumstances are supported. This is done through the Restoration of Family Links program (RFL) or what some people locally call “family tracing.”

Whenever an emergency hits, the RFL services are activated to register the affected, activate family tracing processes and systems, as well as support the actual family unification process until people are re-united with their loved ones.

In early December 2019, heavy rains hit Bundibugyo district in western Uganda. The rain lasted for 6 hours. It was too strong and moved boulders from the hills of Rwenzori mountain across 12 sub-counties in Bundibugyo district.

Tears and wailing filled the town. 18 people lost their lives and thousands were displaced. It was hard for people who were in town running their businesses to go back home, and neither could those in villages cross to town. Roads were destroyed, houses and bridges, gardens washed away, small streams became rivers and big rivers burst their banks, flowing into people’s homes and caused massive destruction.

L-R Night Mary (mother),Charles Mubindu (son) and Uganda Red Cross RFL
Staff on the day of family reunification

Those who survived were seen scampering off to buildings nearby, looking for a safe place to hide and save their lives. Among those was Night Mary, a 40-year-old mother of 2. On that dreadful day, she was in Bundibugyo town operating her stall. She sells fresh vegetables for a living. The rain caught her up and couldn’t return home to find her family. She later got information that her house was no more and rain had destroyed everything.

“When I got the information, I shrunk; my feeble legs couldn’t hold me anymore; I sat down. What crossed my mind first were my children. I thought they had died. I cried, I got tired and slept. After sometime someone woke me up, it was dark and had nowhere to sleep. That day we got blankets from Red Cross officials and tarpaulins to sleep on the floor at a school nearby town. The dark seemed darker for me.” Said Night Mary.

After three days, the government of Uganda gazzeted Bubukwanga Camp and Semuliki High School to officially host the internally displaced people in Bundibugyo. Among the services Uganda Red Cross offers include distribution of food, non-food items, psychosocial support, clean and safe water, family tracing and protection services, among other life saving support.

“When Red Cross said they offer family tracing, I registered the names of my son Charles, 14 years old. I had known that my daughter lives with my sister but my son was still missing. I however didn’t see his name among those recorded dead. I approached the Red Cross desk and registered for tracing services. Today, I smile and cry because I met my child. I want to thank Red Cross so much for helping to look for my son. He was at Bubukwanga camp.” Night Mary is excited.

Through the RFL services, Night Mary was able to re-unite with her son. They were living in different camps after the disaster. They both wandered to different directions after the incident. Night Mary thought her son was dead and Charles too thought his mother was dead because the town council (where his mother works from) was among the worst hit areas.

Charles didn’t bother looking for his mother, he thought she had died. “we were told that people in down all died. I had lost hope. I am happy I met mom. Thank you Red Cross.” Charles shed tears of joy.

“ICRC immediately worked with the National Society to deploy RFL teams from other parts of the country to support Bundibugyo. I am here to offer technical support. Bundibugyo was not among the districts that host refugees so we didn’t have RFL staff at this branch. With the support of ICRC, we have managed to deploy RFL staff and this is how Night Mary and others benefited from family tracing services.” Says Abel Nuwamanya, Uganda Red Cross RFL Program Manager.

Uganda Red Cross through the axillary role supports the government of Uganda to take lead in offering humanitarian lifeline services to the people affected and displaced by disasters in Bundibugyo and other districts where Climate Change has greatly impacted on communities.

The National Society remains committed to offering lifesaving services to different communities across the Country. Today, Government of Uganda statistics show that over 6 million people are affected by disasters across the country.

Floods Hit Bundibugyo

Monday, 09 December 2019 12:25 Written by

17 confirmed dead in the Bundibugyo floods, search and rescue continues.

Uganda Red Cross Volunteers on rescue mission in Bundibugyo

Background

On 6th 12. 2019 at about 3:00pm, heavy rains hit Bundibugyo and continued up to 12 noon of 7th 12 2019. Many places flooded as a result and affected a number of households. Many people displaced, houses destroyed and others lost life. Houses, latrines, crop gardens, places of worship, and Cocoa gardens were also sub merged, causing devastation and suffering among people.

A total of 12 sub counties were adversely affected and these included: Halugare, Busaru, Ngite, Bundibugyo town council, Bubukwanga, Kirumya, Ntotoro, Tokwe, Bukonzo, Busunga, Kisuuba, and Sindila

Current Situation

The situation is still life threatening, worrying as many people are traumatized, on tension and stranded. They are not able to predict what will happen next as rains continue to fall.A total number of 1,152 households composed of 6,768 individuals has been affected

Volunteers loading a body after recovery from the floods..

17 bodies have so far been retrieved by the Uganda Red Cross RCATs

A total of 800 persons are currently displaced living in churches and school buildings with others being hosted by relatives in the neighborhoods.

2 injured persons are admitted at Busaru Health Centre III.

The displaced persons whose houses have been destroyed and have nowhere to sleep have been sheltered at nearby schools and churches (Busuru Catholic Church, Kihoka Primary school, Izahura primary school and Kibale Catholic church).

Uganda Red Cross Response

A team of Red Cross Action Team was deployed in the different sub counties affected for a rapid assessment of needs of the people on ground.The Red Cross Action team has helped in the tracing of the missing community members and 17 dead bodies were retrieved The discovered dead bodies have been dressed and well prepared by the Red Cross action team and handed to the hospitals and some have been left with their families after Provided Body bags and blankets for covering the resumed dead bodies for easy transportation Liaised with the local and district leaders to do a joint assessment.

Transportation of dead body after being recovered from the field

URCS mobilized with the Government through the OPM to get some immediate support for the affected persons Provided psycho social support for the bereaved families and affected families and community members Evacuated the affected persons who were in critical conditions and took them to the hospital Provided health promotion and psychosocial support .

The Red Cross Volunteers were on ground and mobilized for sleeping materials from the community members and prepared porridge for the displaced people who were sheltered at Busaru Red Cross Community Volunteers together with the local police and UPDF have since continued to manage the search and rescue activities The search and rescue operation is still ongoing.

Key figures

17 deaths

1,152 households composed of 6,768 individuals are affected

A total of twelve (12) sub counties have been affected

Over 800 people are displaced

50 Red Cross Volunteers conducting emergency rescue services, and assessment

2 injured, and admitted in hospital, one with fractured limbs

Other threats / Risks

- Continued rainfall

- Likelihood of disease outbreaks like Pneumonia in children, cholera due to poor hygiene & sanitation, diarrheal diseases among others.

- More likely deaths due to all the above conditions.

Immediate needs

- Food

- Safe Shelter

- Clean water / Water purifiers

-Latrine facilities -Nonfood items (household items)

- Warm clothes and blankets

Map showing the affected area.

Quote:

“We are deeply saddened by the incident Bundibugyo. We identify with the families that lost their loved ones. Uganda Red Cross is always committed to supporting people affected by disasters and will do whatever we can to mobilise resources and support the affected families. After the assessment, we will be able to offer meaningful support to meet the critical needs of the people. I call upon other partners to join us in this effort of saving lives of people.” Says Robert Kwesiga – Secretary General – Uganda Red Cross Society.

Editor’s Notes

According to information from the Uganda Metrological authority, projected rains are still with us until the end of December. Climate change effects like flooding, destruction, lightening, are common during heavy rains. Communities are called upon to be on high alert.

For more Information:

  • Irene Nakasiita - Communications & Public Relations Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (0774382583/0755000695)
  • Bob Robert Akankwasa – Director – Disaster Management Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Contact: Facebook: Uganda Red Cross Society Twitter: @ugandaredcross Instagram: UgandaRedCross

Mapping Plays a vital Role in Disaster Response and Preparedness

Thursday, 28 November 2019 23:02 Written by
An instructor guides a volunteer during the training

On 15th November 2019, the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), organized the open street map mapathon training. An open street map is part geographic information system that is used by many humanitarian agencies like Red Cross to create map data that, in case of a disaster, the data can be used to trace the affected communities.

Geographic information system GIS improves the allocation of resources for response. GIS technologies are much useful in modelling of disaster risks and human adaptations to hazards. Sar Amadi country manager Humanitarian Open Streetmap explains that "the point of this workshop is to connect dots between the volunteers who are supporting the work of URCS while managing disasters."

It should be remembered that earlier this year, Bududa district was hit by massive landslides that so many people lose their property and lives. On a similar note, recently, in October, Kasese district was also hit by landslides, so mapping helps to spot the affected areas which assist in disaster response and preparedness. Twaha Ayubu Kampala West branch manager noted that mapping is a great activity that not helps branch managers to mark disaster-prone areas but also helps volunteers practice humanitarian work."

An instructor guides a volunteer during the training

On a similar note, Doreen Asasira Vice-Chairperson Kampala West Branch noted the open street map training would help me teach other volunteers in my branch in helping us to mark those areas affected by floods. The street map workshop focused on the eastern and western regions of Uganda since it had got the most recent flooding. Over 60 volunteers from different URCS branches participated in the training David Luswata GIS consultant at URCS, and the chief organizer of the workshop urged volunteers to use the mapping skills attained so has to help in disaster management.

An instructor guides a volunteer during the training

URCS Keep a Girl in School Campaign Distributes Sanitary wear to Girls in Mayuge District

Thursday, 28 November 2019 22:59 Written by
KAGIS Mayuge story

To help the girl child stay in school, Uganda Red Cross Society, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, launched a Keep the Girl in School campaign (KAGIS) in March 2019. The Campaign’s target is to collect over 7,700,000,000UGX (seven billion and seven hundred million), fora years’ worth of sanitary pads for 9,3336 (nine thousand three hundred thirty-six) girls in Uganda by 2021. On Friday, 27th September 2019, the URCS and its team distributedsanitary pads to 1336 girls from five schools in Mayuge district.

The Ministry of Education and Sports selected the most vulnerable schools for this distribution andthese included; Bufulubi SS in Imanyiro Sub County, Bukabooli Seed S.S. in Bukabooli Sub-county, Bunya S.S. in Mayuge Town council, St. John SS Buwaya in Buwaya Sub-county, Wante Muslim in Baitambogwe Sub-county. In attendance were local district leaders, local Non-Government organizations, Journalists, and Representatives from Parliament and the Ministry of Education and Sports.

The heart of this campaign is to ensure that girls in rural schools get proper menstrual management health systems. This will reduce the dropout rate for girls in schools in rural areas. Mugabi Fred, the headmaster of Bunya Secondary School, praised the campaign saying, "this campaign will truly keep girls in school because most of the parents here cannot afford to buy these menstrual hygiene products, some girls get exploited by shameless men. Where they get pregnant or catch deadly diseases." Eng. Grace Kyagaba, the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) officer at Uganda Red Cross added, "The priority of this campaign is to reduce the dropout rate of girls in school and increase retention rate.

Our main target is for Mayuge is 9370 girls." He also noted that the girls also need changing rooms, toilets, and incinerators to avoid the spread of infections. Nangobi Esther, one of the beneficiaries, is grateful for the campaign saying, " I am so glad we now have access to pads. A friend of mine got a boyfriend who used to give for pads in exchange for sex and now she has HIV." Research indicates Mayuge District has the most number of girls who drop out of school due to menstrual hygiene problems. The District Officer in charge of guidance and counselling, Margaret Tibenda, explained that "only 28% of the girls who start primary one complete primary seven.

In case these girls learn to manage their menstrual cycle with school, the completion rate reaches up to 70.5% at senior four. Among the significant challenges that are leading to the high school dropouts in our schools of Mayuge is poverty, where parents cannot afford basic needs for their children, including sanitary pads, Tibenda added. Mrs. Cecil Lwanga, one of theGoodwill Ambassadors of the campaign, thanked the Ministry of Education for the confidence entrusted in Uganda Red Cross Society as an impartial and humanitarian arm to push and address the pride of the girl child regarding issues of menstrual hygiene.

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URCS Contacts

Plot 551/555 Rubaga Road.
P.O. Box 494, Kampala Uganda.
Tel:     (256) 414 258701
Tel:     (256) 414 258702
Email: sgurcs@redcrossug.org

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