According to UNOCHA there are nearly 79,000 displaced Congolese living in 31 IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps in North Kivu. Many of them have no hope of going home in the near future due to continued insecurity and renewed fighting in their villages. More than 1,300 families are spread out over this hill on the outskirts of Masisi. Among the women and girls who have been documented, some have had the courage to register as rape survivors.
As they arrive, each new family must build thier own shelter starting with a framework of wood from local plants and trees.
New arrivals are usually taken in by another family until they can build their own shelter. Judith (Name changed), a 47 year old widow shown here fastening the roof supports on her new shelter arrived in the camp at the end of January. “An armed group came two weeks ago and they chased us away and killed some of us. Women were raped and their limbs were cut off with machetes. I saw this with my own eyes. While we were fleeing my sister was killed and cut to pieces. I live in misery. I work here and there for the villagers and get paid with plants and salt. I have nine children, four are my own and the others are my sister’s children. My hope is that I receive help. Before, I had a stable life and could educate my children – now I can’t do that. My children aren’t well – we can’t eat or keep clean.”.
Cecile (name changed), 37, arrived in the camp almost a year ago. “We fled because armed groups were raising villages on the other side of the hills and they were killing people and burning everything. I was so distressed when we fled. We didn’t have anything to eat.”
Arriving in the camp, Cecile and her five children were taken in by another family until they could build their own shelter. Cecile struggles on a daily basis. “I face many challenges each day – to get food, maintain our shelter, to keep clothed and to even find cooking utensils. On top of that my children can’t go to school.”
CARE provided Cecile, and families like hers, with vouchers that could be used to buy the things she most needed, these vouchers assist families with the goods they need, while helping local markets. “We received vouchers from CARE. No NGO had given us food until then. I was miserable with hunger and when CARE gave us the vouchers I was overjoyed. I thank CARE for that. I liked getting vouchers instead of simply receiving food directly. It meant I could choose what to get and how much.”
This camp is now home to Cecile and she explained why returning home isn’t an option. “I can’t imagine going back – people from our village have gone back and have been killed or have returned here.”
The makeshift shelters are tightly packed on the hillside. This view shows existing shelters and a new shelter being built in an available space.
This group of women work every day weaving new baskets to carry goods.
Women carry heavy goods and crops from the fields on their heads. The responsibilities of collecting water, firewood and other basic necessities are responsibilities that usually fall upon females in the developing world – this leaves little time to attend school, access health services or earn money. They typically carry a load weighing 20kg (the equivalent of the UK luggage allowance).
A small shop on site provides essential goods. A voucher scheme enables families to buy the things most needed, these vouchers assist families with the goods they need, while helping local markets. Many prefer getting vouchers instead of simply receiving food directly. It means they can choose what to get and how much.
Young boys fetch fresh water from centerally located taps.
Children also have time to play, here A young boy plays with a simply made spinning top.
All pictures and words copyright Julie Edwards & CARE International.