Day 8 – We headed out early to visit the Palorinya Refugee Settlement. Traveling during the dry season made the trek so much more bearable although the roads are still treacherous. We first stopped at Ibakwe and visited the first housing container. This was the project where we shipped medical supplies and equipment in the 40’ shipping container and converted the containers into housing for the healthcare staff at the refugee settlements. Prior to these container homes, the staff were living in dilapidated structures and tents.
For the most part, we received positive feedback. They LOVED having power which was their favorite part about their housing, and they also liked having their own private space. Since this container wasn’t insulated, it was too hot to be in during the day, and the space is too small. Men are the only ones who live in these units because the women prefer more space. Many of the women have their children with them at the settlement so they opt to live in the prefabricated units that have also been added. Those units were too hot as well to be in during the day and have less power than the ones we constructed. Overall, the housing we provided is a significant improvement, but we have some changes that could enhance the design even more.
We visited the Luru refugee settlement as well. This has a level III health center and where we sent two housing containers. These containers were insulated so were much cooler than the one at Ibakwe. The healthcare workers were very happy with their new accommodations. We did get feedback once again about wishing for more space if we were going to refine the design and having more power so they could iron their clothes.
Driving to the settlements and touring their facilities was eye opening for the team. It was hard to see women and their newborn babies in the recovery room which was a large, open canvas tent and to hear kids screaming in treatment rooms knowing there isn’t any medication for pain. These moments are overwhelming and can even feel hopeless, but I know that if we can continue to chip away at some of the issues, we can make improvements that will impact the quality of life for the people here living and working in these settlements. Lawrence, the Clinical Officer, at Luru told us that he noticed the quality of care had improved because the staff was getting more sleep due to the safe and dry housing we provided (that also include great mattresses)! Our efforts are worth it!
On our way back, we visited the Moyo Polytechnic School. This is a school that focuses on developing skills in trades with a mission of getting people out of extreme poverty. Many of the students don’t have a formal education and had to drop out of school due to lack of funding and other circumstances. They were teaching classes in tailoring, hair dressing, brick making, automotive, and carpentry. A group of boys were working on making desks, and Apollo almost negotiated a deal of twenty cows in exchange to marry Hannah! Apollo said it would be the talk of the school for 2022!
It felt good to be off the bus, out of the heat, and be back at our hotel. (We decided to keep Hannah.) Our team agreed that we had nothing to complain about and were grateful for all our blessings. It was another long but rewarding day.