Medicine, Vocational Training, and Education for Kiryandongo

December 27, 2013

Naku Charles Lwanga and Jonathan White

Project Background:

The Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda, is a UNHCR managed refugee settlement that provides shelter, land and support for more than 25,000, comprised of Ugandan IDPs and refugees from Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan.  RMF has partnered with UNHCR in supporting Kiryandango and the greater surrounding community of Bweyale (an additional 30,000 residents) with health care, education and vocational training since 2008.

Project Objectives:

  • Provide funding for continuous running of the vocational school.
  • Provide funding to facilitate candidates taking their national exams in Masindi.  This facilitation includes transport to and from, accommodation, feeding, and the allowance for the teachers who take care of the students in Masindi.
  • Provide school fees and scholastic materials for all Kenyan and Sudanese refugee school children, at the beginning of the term.
  • Continuous maintenance of RMF office compound at the camp, for use by RMF staff in Kiryandongo resettlement camp.
  • Provide other support as needed/budgeted to the Kiryandongo schools, and community as a whole.
  • Maintenance and repair of the water taps at the health center, and repair of some boreholes at the camp.
  • Maintain adequate medicine and medical supplies to the Panyadoli Health Center. Research the upgrade of Panyadoli Health Centre III to Hospital level.
  • Provide funding to facilitate fieldwork for students studying geography.
  • Provide supplemental medicine funding for nearby Congolese Refugee Settelments

Summary of RMF/WCF-sponsored activities carried out during the reporting period under each project objective:

School Support

All the school fees in all sponsored schools have been cleared for the third term 2013.

1,286 children, pupils, and students in total are supported by RMF/WCF funding in Nursery, Primary, and Secondary schools:

  • Arnold Primary School: we support 410 students.
  • Panyadoli Self Help Secondary School: we support 48 students
  • Can Rom Primary School: we support 681 students
  • Beth Cole Nursery School: we support 75 students
  • Daystar Nursery: we support 72 students

In summary: 

Beth Cole and DaystarNursery Schools                      147

Can Rom and Arnold Primary Schools                     1,091

Panyandoli Self Help Secondary School                        48

Total Children Supported                                            1,286

Notebooks and other school supplies given to students

Medicine delivery

RMF/WCF, local government, and UNHCR equipped the health center with pharmaceuticals this reporting period. The last resupply was on August 13th, 2013.

Vocational Training Institute

Continued financial support and guidance for the RMF Tailoring and Hairdressing Vocational Training Institute; a total of 60 students were admitted this semester. Materials for classes and fuel for the generator were provided through the 3rd Quarter to ensure the efficient running of both programs.  Partnership with Happy Baby Carrier to train students/recent graduates on making/selling baby carriers. (More photos in Success Story section below)

Tailor Shop Program: 10 tailors who graduated from Panyadoli Vocational School were given funds and planning assistance to begin tailoring businesses.  The sponsorship of these graduates with their own Tailoring Shop business begins with the purchase of sewing machines, fabrics, threads and other equipment. RMF also supports the rental payments for their shops for the first year. In order to be approved for the program, tailoring students will be expected to donate 10% of their profits back to the Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute (PVTI) to be used to purchase supplies for new students.

Congolese Refugee Crisis

The recent fighting has driven an influx of more than 65,000 refugees from the DR Congo into Uganda and the situation is abysmal. There is no water, sanitation, healthcare, shelter, or roads to support these people and all repatriation processes have been halted. The establishment of additional shelters, water sources, communal kitchens, start-up vaccination for under-five-year-olds and support to existing health centers have been ranked as urgent priorities. The refugees are currently camping at the Bundibugyo and Kyangwali Refugee Settlement areas at Bubandi sub-county headquarter land.  

We had been asked by the medical officer at the camp to start supplying urgent medicine needed that isn’t currently being provided by other NGOs. 

Second visit to Bundibugyo Refugee Settlement

Upon reaching Bundibugyo with the requested medications and supplies, everyone was very relieved to see RMF as the medical supplies were running so low. Most of the large NGOs have all withdrawn from Bundibugyo. Currently, Malteser International (German organization) is in charge of health, and UNHCR and OPM are operational at the transit center.  Even the Red Cross has almost entirely withdrawn from the camp as a result of having less than 10 volunteers on the ground.


About 4,000 refugees are still on the ground and resources are very limited.  Children had been overseen by Save the Children, with volunteers keeping children and youths active.  Overall withdrawal of support to the camp has made the youths stay idle and redundant.  Most people, especially children and youths, have no clothes at Bundibugyo.  Hygiene is poor, due to lack of water, soap, and sensitization training.  When NGOs were present at the site, basic needs like soap, clothes, etc were given in plenty, but now, the refugees rely on only what Government and UNHCR have to offer.

Before their withdrawal from the camp, OPM, UNHCR, and other NGOs identified challenges and opportunities surrounding the continued provision of services.

The camp is located in a swampy, wet area. When it rains, all of the tents are prone to flooding, making it wet and very cold for those living within them, especially at night.  Organizations that were working with the camp dug trenches and brought marram soil from the mountains, placing the tents above the soil, which helps ensure those sleeping in the tents stay warm despite the rains. When it rains heavily, the water runs into the trenches, helping to redirect the rain and flood waters.  Heavy tanks for water have been provided, so water is supplied in all corners of the camp.  Latrines have been dug throughout the camp, ensuring good sanitation, although hygiene is poor.

The system has been put in place, but the challenge now is limited funding to the camp and manpower to maintain what has been put into place.  Kitchens were built in every corner and saucepans were distributed, to ensure there is not too much congestion in any one place of the camp.  At times, there is not enough firewood for all of the kitchens, causing congestion at serving time as only one to two kitchens can open with the small supply of firewood. 

When funds were available to the camp, food serving areas had many volunteer cooks and those who serve could be given little allowances for this work. Since resources are now limited, few cooks are in place resulting in congestion and delays with serving food to the camp population.


Success Stories:

Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute (PVTI) “Happy Baby” baby carrier tailoring project and tailoring business progress:

“Happy Baby” baby carriers tailoring project in collaboration with RMF/WCF:

In collaboration with “Happy Baby” baby carriers, a trip to Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda was made to meet the 10 RMF funded tailors to enhance their skill sets and expand their future business revenue by learning to make popular “Happy Baby” baby carriers.

This unique tailoring program consisted of training 10 tailoring students (5 Ugandan; 1 Kenyan; 4 Sudanese) and two tailoring teachers to become Happy Baby Entrepreneurs within their communities. The tailors selected to participate in the training have been funded by RMF to open their businesses in Bweyale Town. During the training, they learned the following skill sets:

  • How to make ergonomic carriers;
  • Practice how to instruct parents to properly and safely wear the carrier;
  • Understand the design aspects of the baby carrier, and
  • Participate in marketing the baby carrier and its benefits to become entrepreneurs of Happy Baby.

The first carrier is always considered a trial carrier for the tailor to keep and use as an example when making the next carrier. Due to lack of machines and experience, the tailors narrowly completed their first carrier by the end of the four days of training. The tailoring students and teachers were asked to complete their second carrier before selling them within their communities.

RMF Tailor Shop Program launched

The official launch of the second phase of our Tailor Shop Program happened in June, and by the start of July, early Q3, the program had officially launched with all 10 tailors set up for business.  Back in June, RMF Country Director Charles Lwanga, took the 10 tailors along, from Bweyale to Kampala to shop for supplies.  In Kampala, the tailors were exposed to various types of fabric and supply shops to see the variety available at the markets.  Good quality and well-priced sewing machines were found in one location and fabrics were bought from several shops depending on each tailor and their negotiating powers.

Some of the tailors opted for Butengi style fabrics, these are commonly known as “West Africa wear” and some opted for second-hand western style clothes, that when altered on their tailoring machines, can be easily marketed and sold.  Others, who advertised their services to local schools, bought uniform materials.

A transport truck was then hired in Kampala to deliver all of the fabrics, and machines from Kampala to the RMF offices at the Kiryandongo Refugee Camp.  The shop spaces rent was paid for by RMF staff and after the signing of the MOU by each tailor, all the machines and fabrics were handed over to the individuals, and helped to transport from the RMF office to their respective shops.

Some of the tailors are located in the main Bweyale market center with the neighboring districts of Lira, Gulu, Masindi, Luwero,and Nakasongo all coming to shop on Saturdays and Wednesdays.  Other tailors have located along the highway where they have negotiated good rates with landlords. Auma Santa, one of the tailors selected, already had a shop location before the program, but as the power supply was not regular enough she decided to purchase a small generator.

In the approximately 4 months that have passed since the tailors received the start-up kit and shop space from RMF to start business in the country, all 10 tailors are doing well and all are making some kind of a profit. The table below show the profits made as of late September. Each of the tailors will be expected to give 10% of their profits back to the Vocational Training Institute in the course of November.

Names Profits
Aweko Doreen 350,000/=
Anyango Pauline 250,000/=
Aryemo Martha 200,000/=
Auma Santa 950,000/=
Angella Ramathan 200,000/=
Asienzo Lillian 95,000/=
Akwero Beatrice 250,000/=
Nekesa Rose 124,000/=
Nyaketcho Marium 158,500/=
Atto Jackie 150,000/=
TOTAL 2,727,500/=


Country Page: Uganda Initiative Page: Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement Project