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Meet Kennedy and Stella

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Kennedy and Stella playing with their youngest child at their home in imvepi refugee settlement,
northern Uganda

Meet Kennedy and Stella, a love story that has stood a test of refugee life

Being a refugee might be one of life’s biggestchallenges. It comes with a lot of deprivations, trauma and other limitations. Thousands of refugees in the world go hungry, others just fall sick and die, any are killed by the stress and circumstances while stress and boredom linger on majority. Everyone cherishes being in their home country, peaceful, working studying and have a happy family life.

For many years, South Sudan has been raging with war and this has pushed over a million refugees into Uganda. Despite Uganda’s friendly refugee policy, these still stay in settlements, with a small chunk of land, only a few household items, and still get food rations. Life is generally not a bed of roses. The situation however, is quite differentfor this young, enthusiastic and visibly happy family of four in village 6,Imvepi refugee settlement, in Nnorthern Uganda. KennedyMetaloro 27, lives with his wife StellaOnesta, 24 years old and their two daughters; Patricia- 3years and Gloria, (2 years), in their grass thatched house in the settlement. On seeing us approach their home, the two beamed with smiles and excitement as they welcomed us into their home with open hands.

They love visitors. They are a happy couple who despite all odds have chosen to smile and let life move on. The couple has lived in Uganda as refugees for two years. However before becoming refugees, Kennedy and Stella had been in Uganda as students in 2008. They met at Arua Progressive Secondary school. Kennedy was classes ahead of Stella. A beautiful and brilliant young girl in her senior three, Stellawas always the target of many eyes. Kennedy won her heart! “Kennedy was a young energetic man, very brilliant! Since he was ahead of me, I was sure I would rely on him for protection and academic assistance while we were at school. Life at school was so good and easy with him,and we were lucky to have come from the same tribe and village back in South Sudan.

I loved him since our school time and I knew he would become my future husband.” said Stella as she reminisced with nostalgia about the olden days. After high school, the two moved back to South Sudan and Kennedy started working at the airport. Unfortunately, against her will,Stella couldn’t proceed to university as there was no money for university tuition, she just kept waiting and praying for the day she would said Stella as she reminisced with nostalgia about the olden days. After high school, the two moved back to South Sudan and Kennedy started working at the airport.

Kennedy and Stella started dating way back in secondary school when they were both
students in Uganda

Unfortunately, against her will,Stella couldn’t proceed to university as there was no money for university tuition, she just kept waiting and praying for the day she would I was still working to raise money for the cows when the war broke out and we fled the country.” said Kennedy The war in South Sudan intensified in 2016 and by this time, Kennedy and Stella already had one child ;Patricia. Stella lived in Yei with her Kennedy’s mother since she was already accepted to live with Kennedy’s family. Kennedy was working at the airport, some good distance away from his family.When the war broke out, Stella was very pregnant. She ran to Uganda with Kennedy’s mother and their daughter Patricia. Kennedy was at work and they couldn’t communicate with him. “We were forced to leave him behind. The situation was getting out of hand, we were all scared.

They slaughtered our neighbors the night before we ran and this compelled us to take off. We run with nothing. On the road, we suffered a lot, there was no food or water, I had a young baby, I was pregnant for our second child and then I had to help Kennedy’s mother, who is old now. Some people died on the road and others fell sick. We were so happy and relieved when we reached Uganda” Stella narrated the ordeal. When Stella reached in Uganda, she gave birth to their second child. This was in the refugee settlement in Uganda.

It took Stella and Kennedy seven months to see each other again. There was no connection until through the Red Cross restoration of family links program,Stella got to know that Kennedy was nearby in Bidibidi settlement. Kennedy had also fled after his family left, but had no idea whether his family was safe or not. Through the Red Cross family tracing program, he got to know that his family was alive in a refugee settlement in Uganda. He however had no idea it was so close to his. “When I got to know where they lived, I couldn’t stop visiting. They were really suffering when I found them. There was no food, no land and life was hard. They clearly missed a I had to bribe security to allow me sneak in to check on my family every day. This is why I requested Uganda Red Cross and other authorities to let me join my family here in Imvepi refugee settlement.” The family recalls the joy and jubilations when they were reunited. “When I saw him again, I felt life come back. We were worried that he hadn’t made it out alive.

We really thank God for having kept him alive and brought him back to us” said Stella. After reuniting with his family, Kennedy got an opportunity to become a Red Cross volunteer in his community where he helps in translations during psychosocial, health and hygiene promotion activities carried out by Uganda Red Cross in the settlements. From his small facilitation, he has been able to look after his family. His wife Stella also volunteers at a nearby nursey school as a care taker for children. The two have never given up hopes of going back to school and have applied for a few scholarship opportunities within the settlement. Stella wants to study Public Health at the university and Kennedy wants to get more qualifications to get him a better paying job here in Uganda. When asked about going back to South Sudan, Stella had this to say; “I can’t, I can never go back to that place. I just want to go back to school and we comfortably live here.!”

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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