Through hours of rolling hills, the white nile and abundant wildlife, the road from Entebbe, through Kampala en route to Northern Uganda is stunning.
After driving over the mighty White Nile river, the landscaped changed to a familiar state; red earth, tukuls and hundreds of South Sudanese are suddenly part of the landscape.
Crossing the White Nile in Northern Uganda
Few people I’ve met in my life carry a story like hers. Treana Peake, Founder of the Obakki Foundation is doing what she does best - connecting with people in the Bidi Bidi UNHCR Refugee Resettlement near Arua, Northern Uganda.
This is one of the most harrowing and special parts of the UNHCR settlement. Hundreds of children without parents play together in one huge area. Immediately it’s apparent - they’re missing those parental figures in their lives; they want to be played with, smiled at, laughed with. It was incredibly moving.
Treana giving her respects to all the children around her. In the Kid’s Zone, there were two thousand children without parents in this small area.
These are an assortment of toys the children had made themselves - by hand to play with out of mud. They leave them in the sun to harden, and in a communal area where any of the children can share them.
Treana and Obakki Foundation’s Country Director in South Sudan, Abenego Majack.
Abenego is one of the warmest individuals i’ve met. Having gone through a program as a translator in the UN leading into independence from Sudan, he began helping the foundation’s efforts in 2010.
After noticing they were pulling at my shirt, my hair and my skin, I put my hand out.
Having been to South Sudan multiple times, one thing that jumped out to me when visiting the UNHCR Refugee Resettlement in Bidi Bidi is that everyone speaks english. In the past, we’ve had translators, but when you’re interacting with someone away from them, it’s difficult to communicate. You find yourself having more developed conversations, and understanding the plights of being a refugee more in this context.
UNHCR Ambassador and former refugee Ger Duany watching from the fence around a water well.
Obakki Foundation Founder Treana Peake speaking with students about ongoing struggles in the resettlement. With her, she brought pieces of paper and coloured paint and told the students to express the way they were feeling about being educated in the resettlement camp. They drew their ruminations on paper, shown below.