Dieudonné immediately signed up to participate in the JRS pastoral services programme which seeks to welcome and accompany refugees in the most vulnerable circumstances, and promote solidarity among refugees in the camp.
The pastoral services team comprises 10 catechists: six men and four women, all refugees. In addition to prayer and catechisms services offered to the 19 religious communities based in the camp, they carry out home visits to refugees in vulnerable circumstances to listen to their problems and seek ways of resolving them.
Every Friday morning a group of catechists, the mobile refugee team, meets to examine and discuss the most urgent needs arising from their grassroots pastoral activities with the community. Afterwards they divide into groups and head towards the camp to meet a family or an individual.
Furama and Ngendahayo. Furama is a 15 year-old who has lives alone with her 13 year-old younger brother, Ngendahayo. The two siblings were orphaned many years ago when their mother died suddenly. When the JRS mobile team visited the brothers they realised Furama was not able to feed herself or her brother. In addition, neither of them was going to school; Furama because she was spending all her time looking for food, Ngendahayo because he has a problem with his legs and is not able to walk to school, too far from their humble home.
Furama and Ngendahayo remain locked up at home; they are always in silence and have no friends. They did not seek help from the JRS mobile team, of whose existence they were not even aware. It was some of their neighbours who realised how they were living, who following an awareness raising campaign organised by the JRS catechists, felt responsible for their upbringing.
The two siblings felt relieved telling their story to the catechists, who since then regularly visit them. Furama has learned to ration better the food they receive from the World Food Programme to keep it from running out within a few days.
In this way, she has realised she can attend school in the mornings instead of going out seeking food. The catechists are also busy looking for solutions for Ngendahayo and have asked the camp authorities to offer the family a home nearer to the school, allowing him to continue his studies.
Promoting solidarity among refugees, taking care of neghbours. "The basis of our service is to raise awareness in the community of what we do in the field. Thanks to this, people understand that believing in God, above all, means taking care of your neighbour and they inform us of cases of older people, orphans or those with a medical condition who are in need of assistance, like in the case of Furama and Ngendahayo", said Dieudonné Niyileiyi.
The interventions undertaken by the mobile team include the accompaniment of the ill to hospital, and manual work, like the restoration of houses or the construction of external kitchens, above all for older people who would not be able to so this sort of work alone.
"In addition, as part of our public awareness activities in church, we organise collections for those most in need. Everyone in the community gives up a little bit of their monthly food rations, sell it in the market and with what they receive, they buy food, clothing and soap, and we distribute it. It is a way we have of helping each other so that a sense of solidarity and hospitality prevails in the refugee community, even though the conditions in which everybody lives are difficult", added Dieudonné Niyileiyi.
Danilo Giannese, JRS Great Lakes Africa Advocacy and Communications Officer
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