Inspired by Adversity to Serve Others

15 June 2024|Rosette Komuhangi, Communications Officer JRS Uganda

I am convinced that I am only an effective Peace Artisan if I have peace inside me. To me, peace is to have the liberty to speak and to do something to improve myself. Despite the adversity that I have been through, I still think peace is achievable and a gift we can only share if we have a piece of it. My life has not only been changed by hardships but has also been positively impacted by seeing change among the people that I serve. This among other things gives me peace and makes me want to share it. 

My name is Prudence Baradumbwa, a Community Worker with JRS in Kampala, Uganda. As we celebrate World Refugee Day and reflect on the work of humanitarian staff, I am happy to share my experience. 

I am a Burundian refugee living in Uganda as my second country of refuge. My journey has been a unique one. I first fled to Tanzania in 2015 after a political crisis. I left my family because I wasn’t sure of what life was ahead of me. Sadly, even in Tanzania, I felt unsafe and had to flee again, this time to Uganda where I have lived since 2019 and was reunited with my family. 

Uganda has not only been a country of refuge but has given me an opportunity to serve fellow refugees. I applied for this job because I wanted to work with people I felt deeply for and with whom I shared an experience.  

My most rewarding days have been those where I have visited homes of displaced people and helped them to get the right support.
Prudence Baradumbwa

One fond memory I have was when I visited a home of Congolese refugees who lost everything after a downpour of rain destroyed everything in the house. They called me with so much distress. Indeed, when I arrived at their home, I saw the damage and my heart went out to them.

I got in touch with JRS, and they supported them. The smile on their faces and their relief gave me so much satisfaction. Such triumphs are what I live for! 

I encountered JRS as a fresh entrant into the country. While trying to settle in, a community leader introduced me to JRS where I got support for food and rent for the first months. This act of kindness impacted me, and I kept JRS in my mind. When I saw an advert for community worker jobs, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to give back to the community by offering my services. I have worked in this position for a year now and I can only hope that I continue serving those who need my services. 

My daily routine is going for community visits to listen to refugees and forward their concerns to the respective JRS departments. As a psychosocial worker, I am equipped to listen and comfort before I can refer beneficiaries. This to me is like giving first aid. Many times, displaced people need someone to listen to them before they get physical support. I am also tasked to do a needs assessment of the most vulnerable since JRS support is limited. As an artisan of peace, I contribute to advocating and supporting people around me so that they get peace.  

JRS has given me an opportunity to help individuals, families, and communities to bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area. In his position, I am tasked to visit beneficiaries down to their homes, and this gives me satisfaction because I know how important it is to be reached physically. I live the mission of JRS daily. I serve, accompany, and advocate! 

My work goes beyond asylum seekers and refugees and extends to host communities. In my experience and observations, Uganda is generally a friendly and accommodating country. We as displaced people in the urban areas live side by side with locals who are embracing and often cordial. For example, in the suburb where I live, women-saving groups by nationals embrace refugees and asylum seekers to be part of the saving groups. To these women, saving knows no nationality. This I find very commendable! This kind of cooperation I have also observed in churches and church groups. Members show solidarity with each other regardless of nationality. They stand with each other for prayers, home visits, funerals, and any other things that need spiritual solidarity. 

The local leadership is very helpful to us. When we approach them with problems, they attend to us regardless of our status. They support us just like they do for Ugandans. 

One of the challenges that I have encountered is the overwhelming need for support in the communities.

When I am doing community visits, I see a lot of need that is beyond what JRS can do. Whereas it makes me feel frustrated and inadequate, I comfort myself that at least we have made a change in some way however small it might be compared to the need. It reminds me of an English saying that ‘one by one makes a bundle’. 

In the future, I want to continue with humanitarian work. I feel that this is a calling in my life to serve those who are displaced. 

I wish peace to all of you.