Congolese refugee Everest Andama, 27, cradles his five-year-old daughter Agnes Draru, as he sits with his one-year-old daughter Sarah Muguchi and his wife Margrat Achema, 24, in the Kyaka II refugee settlement in western Uganda.
Born to Congolese refugees, Everest has spent his whole life in the settlement. There are only two health centres, 9 kilometres apart, and six early childhood development centres but with 26 villages in the settlement housing 24,000 refugees, 20 per cent of whom are between ages of 0 to 4, access to quality health and early education services can be limited, a situation Everest and his family are all too familiar with.
Congolese refugee Everest Andama, 27, cradles his five-year-old daughter Agnes Draru, outside their shelter in the Kyaka II refugee settlement in western Uganda. His wife Margrat Achema, 24, stands behind with their one-year-old daughter Sarah Muguchi. “When my wife went into labour with Agnes, I took her to the health centre.
When Agnes was born she was unconscious. They took the baby and my wife to the ward. After they discharged us, she wasn’t like other children. Her neck was not stable. We were referred to a hospital three hours away, said Everest. Agnes suffered irreversible brain damage from being starved of oxygen at birth.
In the same health centre where she was born, 100 babies are delivered every month, 16 of the deliveries are emergency cases and with the nearest theatre three hours’ drive away, the mothers and babies are at risk of dying on route.
Congolese refugee Everest Andama, 27, holds his five-year-old daughter Agnes Draru and gentle pulls on her cheek to calm her inside their shelter in the Kyaka II refugee settlement in western Uganda. Agnes can’t talk, walk, or feed by herself. Everest carries her in his arms or lays her on the floor as he sits by her side.
He feeds her with his hands, but even that’s a struggle as she can’t swallow well. “All my children are a gift from God. I am willing and I will do it takes. I touch her face to comfort her. She likes to listen to the radio whilst she’s laying down,said Everest.
His advice to other parents in his situation is to “be patient, they did not request this to happen to them. You must stay and work together for the sake of the child. Support each other in the home. I spend all my time with my child, I can’t go to work because I have to take care of my child.
South Sudanese refugee and father-of-three Idro Erikole, 28, (back right) his wife Delima Susan, 27, his daughters Anit Gale, 13, Gloria Confidence, 3, and Gift Daniella, 2 months sit together in their shelter in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, northern Uganda.
South Sudanese father-of-three Idro Erikole, 28, and his wife Delima Susan, 27, were forced to flee to the settlement after violence erupted in Juba, South Sudan. The couple met when they were just 13 years old, having both spent their childhood living as refugees after their parents fled the Sudan conflict before they were born.
They returned to their home country of South Sudan when the war prior to independence ended, but nearly six years later then were forced to return to Uganda. There was no food, we couldn’t survive. We tried to remain in these conditions but inflation came and they worsened. We couldn’t afford anything, which created another war against us. In July 2016, heavier war broke out. We couldn’t tolerate it. Before we could leave we spent two days indoors without cooking or eating, said Idro.
South Sudanese refugee and father-of-three Idro Erikole, 28, and his daughter Gloria Confidence, 3, sit together stroking their chicken in their shelter in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, northern Uganda. Despite only being open for less than a year, Uganda’s Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is now the largest refugee camp in the world.
Men are few and far between as women and children make up around 86 per cent of the camps residents. Idro promised his own father that he would get an education but the war forced him to leave a month before he was due to graduate from university in Juba. His wife, a former nurse, was forced to run without her papers, destroying everything they’d worked towards.
We came to the reception centre in Uganda for our own safety. I couldn’t get a plot of land because they were reserved for families of four and there were just four of us as my wife was pregnant with Gift Daniella. We spent a month in the reception centre, and then we were brought here to the bush. My wife harvested grass, I made bricks and we made our home. I’m making a bed at the moment for my children.
South Sudanese refugee and father-of-three Idro Erikole, 28, and his daughter Gloria Confidence, 3, play together in their shelter in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, northern Uganda. My daughter asks me ‘when are we going home’, I hold her to my side, said Idro.
If I can’t fulfil for my family, I am not happy. Idro is a Village Health Team worker. He offers guidance to families on how to prevent malnutrition, an issue affecting the lives and growth of many children fleeing South Sudan. He learnt more about what children need in the earliest years of life through his role, but his foundation of knowledge was already laid during his own childhood.
My mother was very lovely to me. She cared for my hunger. When I was sick, she cared for me. I learnt lessons from her. I love my mother more than anything. I see my wife growing into my mother, and I love her more than anything too…and my three girls.
Idro Erikole, 28, and his daughter Gloria Confidence, 3, play together in their shelter in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, northern Uganda. Idro and his family don’t know when they will return home but he is determined to make the settlement as homely as possible for his children. He is building a second house so that there is more space for everyone.
Single-father-of-four and Congolese refugee Twana Hashim, 26, his twelve-year-old daughter Jalia Hashim , eight-year-old son Hussein Hashim, six-year-old son Jaida Hashim and three-year-old daughter Malik Hashim sit outside their shelter in the Kyaka II refugee settlement, western Uganda, Monday 27 March 2017.
Twana fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo in March 2016 to Uganda after his wife was raped in front of him and his children. I came to Uganda with my children. My wife was raped and taken by the rebels. I don’t know where she is now. They tortured me and beat me.
My children were there, they cried and shouted, says Twana. I have so many challenges for my children. I can’t walk anymore, but I wake up and I get them ready for school, I prepare them lunch. I wash their clothes. This takes me to early evening. I remain with them in the home, and I give them advice.
At 7pm they go to sleep, says Twana. Even if today we are in bad conditions, even if you don’t have everything you want. Tomorrow is another day. I want them to be respectful. They tell me what they did at school and I feel good. Malik likes jumping. She stays with me until the others get home from school. They like to chase each other.
Matthew Mwingi Mukhtar, 22, plays football with his son Tambwoa Collins, 4, as his daughter Joyce Nam Kendo, 3,watches them outside their shelter in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district, northern Uganda, Tuesday 21 March 2017. Surrounded by violence and a shortage of food, Matthew and his wife knew that their environment was no place for young children to grow up in.
We left South Sudan because of the hunger, and the killings. They kill innocent civilians. You cannot move. The economic crisis caused food prices to go up. You find people killed in the road. We heard gunshots and I was worried I would lose my family,says Matthew.
Matthew Mwingi Mukhtar, 22,, his wife Senya Rose, 19, their son four-month-old son Emmanuel Bgue, son Tambwoa Collins, 4,and daughter Joyce Nam Kendo, 3, sit together in their shelter in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district, northern Uganda.
I keep my stress to myself, even my wife, I don’t want them to worry. I don’t want to make them unhappy. I want my children to know that their father loves them. Being a good father is being faithful to one another; you must be exemplary, so they can achieve; bringing them new things, playing with them, when you play with them they know you love them, said Matthew.
South Sudanese refugee Michael Abel, 30, plays a game using pebbles with his children Rasheed Isbon, 4, and Fizer Gloria, 2, outside their shelter in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district, northern Uganda. Michael arrived at the settlement with his wife Mary Michael and their two children in August 2016 after fleeing violence in South Sudan.
The couple also care for their nephew Boniface Hussain, who was abandoned after his father was killed and his mother remarried.
Michael Abel, 30, hugshis daughter Fizer Gloria, 2, outside their shelter in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district, northern Uganda. This isn’t the first time the family have been uprooted. Originally from Bor, South Sudan, they were forced to flee to the capital Juba, when intense fighting broke out in the world’s youngest state.
The violence spread and once again the family was forced to flee, making their way across the border into Uganda. They will slaughter you. They even kill the small persons. They rape grandmothers and then slaughter them too. My brother was killed. They burn people’s houses. By the power of God we are still here, says Michael.
Michael Abel, 30, plays a game of cards with his children Rasheed Isbon, 4, and Fizer Gloria, 2, alongside his wife Mary Michael, 24, and their nephew Boniface Hussain, 4, outside their shelter in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district, northern Uganda.
I’m not dead, so I will always continue to play. Playing helps children, says Michael, who is committed to giving his children what they need to develop I grew up as an orphan. I didn’t get the chance to grow.
South Sudanese refugee and father-of-five Anyano Simon Chira, 29, plays a game with the materials he has available to him with his children Onzima, 9, Emmanuel Prichi, 5, Anyama Godwin, 4, and Anzo Fortunate, 3, in the Pagirinya refugee settlement, eastern Adjumani district, northern Uganda.
In March 2017, Anyano Simon Chira and his wife Susan Kiden Simon and their children live in the Pagirinya refugee settlement in the eastern Adjumani District in northern Uganda. The refugee settlement, which opened in June 2016, is home to thousands of families.
Anyano and his family, who were given a 25ft by 25ft plot of land once they were registered and transitioned, were forced to flee South Sudan due to the ongoing conflict and shortage of food due to insecurity and a dramatic increase in prices for food items.
Originally from Nimule, South Sudan - near the border with Uganda - the family do not know when they will be able to return home.
Anyano Simon Chira, 29, interacts with his six-month-old daughter in their shelter at the Pagirinya refugee settlement, eastern Adjumani district, northern Uganda. Families often face emotional stress as a result of the horrors they have witnessed, leaving them at risk of being unable to provide a positive environment for their children to grow up in.
In emergencies across the world, UNICEF’s Early Childhood Development centres provide a safe space for young children to play and give parents access to psychosocial support to make sure they are able to give babies and young children the love, good nutrition, protection and stimulation through playing that they need for healthy development – creating a lasting impact on their present and future health, happiness, and ability to learn.
Congolese refugees five-year-old David Isabel, six-year-old Esteli Kayesu, two-year-old Mugenyl Alinaitwe, father Benjamin Kisembo, 38, three-year-old Priscilla Katinisa, and eight-year-old Joshua Byamukarma sit in their shelter in the Kyaka II refugee settlement, western Uganda.
Father-of-six Benjamin Kisembo lives in the Kyaka II refugee settlement in western Uganda with five of their children. The Kyaka II settlement opened in 1983 to accommodate an influx of Rwandan refugees and is one of the oldest settlements in the country.
Everest has lived his whole life in the settlement.At 81 square kilometers, the settlement is vast and sparse. There are two health centres, 9 kilometres apart, and six early childhood development nursery schools, but with 26 villages in the settlement housing 24,000 refugees, 20 per cent of whom are between ages of 0 to 4, access to quality health and early education services can be limited.
Benjamin, who arrived at the settlement in 2003 after being forced to flee the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a dedicated father who understands the impact that a strong parent-child bond has on his children’s development. I am always here for to bond with them.
From conception to now, I am always here. In my tribe, this is normal, I have to take full responsibility. I think that by me treating my children with care, it helps them grow. It will stay with them, and one day when they get a family, they will do the same,” says Benjamin.