The continuous military conflicts in South Sudan especially in the southern regions have left death, misery and many displaced to other countries. The wars seem to have turned tribal between the Dinka and Nuer while other tribes suffer the effects of the conflict and Lamwaka Jane from Pajok is one of the victims of the civil unrest, who had to leave her ancestral home in 2017 for Uganda.
As they fled for survival, her young family of three got separated, her husband got lost in the skirmishes, which were frequent. She had to make the tough decision, just like many other families to make the long painful journey, which would see her cross the border into Uganda. Her hopes for a better life were dashed, when, after crossing the border, they were put in concentration camps at Ngomoromo! Many other families moved on further with the aid of UNHCR and other refugee agencies and eventually found themselves as far as Bidi Bidi in the west Nile district of Yumbe!
For Jane, life had no meaning and with her child just an infant, she was hopeless! And yet many people continued to die in the concentration camp for various reasons, including; hunger and diseases, moreover the warring parties back home were only getting their game to the climax.After a painful wait, hope was restored when the government of Uganda managed to secure a resettlement area in Palabek, Lamwo district in northern Uganda, which had also witnessed the ugly side of war for over two decades.
The resettlement area covers an area of twenty square kilometers.
Each refugee family is allocated twenty by forty meters of land to restart a life, build a house, rare animals, grow crops and occasionally receive rationed relief aid from the WFP. Up to this point, many families are always seated with their ears glued to the radio in the hope of listening to the good news that the peace talks have succeeded and it is time to go home.
The biggest percentage of youth in the camp are unemployed, which makes most of them idle. However, some of the youth go to school for there are schools set up within the settlement to meet the educational needs of school going children from nursery, primary and secondary schools.
The Salesians of Don Bosco have set up a technical school, which provides skills to the youth who, for various reasons missed the previous educational levels.
Jane is one of the many such youth who did not have the privilege to study while at home, but has now enjoyed the goodness the facility has provided among their community. She studied a course in beauty and hairdressing.
Today, from the skills she gained at the institute together with a modest startup kit, she has managed to set up a ‘beauty parlour’ by the standards at the reception center, which is the main entrance to the refugee settlement. While she was pursuing her certificate in the six-month course, she had already started styling up the refugee ladies at a modest fee. Jane’s ability to plait hair is also part of her tradition.
What she didn’t know was that hair dressing can be a form of business. It is these kinds of skills, which she learned from the institute and today she is putting the gained skills into full use. It should also be noted that many other refugee youths underwent the same training and are in the same trade.
Jane has added value to her skills by selling other beauty products like perfumes, vaseline, ladies’ stylish dresses and shoes, plus children’s garments. She complained about the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been a hindrance to her operations because of the fact that her merchandise is procured from Kampala.
Jane hopes the war in South Sudan ends so that she can relocate her business back home, from where she expects to start a new and better life with the experience gained while at Palabek Refugee settlement camp.
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