At the end of 2021, the total number of forcibly displaced people worldwide was 89.3 million, while the total population of concern to UNHCR stood at 94.7 million people.
The total number of forcibly displaced people encompasses refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and Venezuelans displaced abroad. 27.1 million are refugees, the majority of whom live in impoverished countries and do not receive any form of aid or support. ‘They may flee their homes with just the clothes on their backs,’ the UNHCR Livelihoods and Self-Reliance homepage reads, ‘but forcibly displaced people always carry something of considerable value: their knowledge, skills, and experience.’
This statement is highly relevant for refugees in Uganda. Refugees, mainly come from neighboring countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda, and South Sudan, and they often have important business experience or an interest in learning new skills. Urban refugees are not provided with material assistance (such as shelter or food), thus they strive to become self-reliant. Many of them, who do not know English yet, struggle to find programs where they can be trained in livelihoods.
To address this gap Bondeko Refugee Livelihoods Centre has a Livelihoods Program run by refugees themselves. They can learn skills in their own native language as well as learn English, and find a community to develop social networks within and beyond.
In 1997, just about 3 years after the Rwandan Genocide, the war started in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The number of those fleeing from violence in Congo kept increasing, whereas refugees who fled from Rwanda in 1994 were still around. A group of refugees living in Kampala, under the leadership and initiative of Father Michel Lingisi, decided to respond to the crisis and created Bondeko Centre.
Bondeko Center supports impoverished, often traumatized refugees, especially women, and children, who reach Uganda's capital Kampala without connections or aid. More than 2,500 refugees households, many of whom live nearby in Najjanankumbi, Massajja, Zana, Ndejje, Kabowa, Ndeba, Kibuye, Makindye, Katwe, and Nsambya are members of Bondeko Center and participate in its various activities.
A micro-savings group of 46 women, called Bondeko's Women Savings Group, is now in its eighth yearlong cycle of savings and is very successful.
Bondeko Center has also opened a bakery at its headquarters, where buns are baked and sold. In 2014, mushroom growing was initiated, and in 2015 the tailoring section of the Livelihoods Program was able to open its own small shop not far from the center.
We're in touch with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) and over the years we have received support from different stakeholders like the Finnish Refugee Council (FRC), the African Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV),
Cohere Charity (former Xavier Project), Omprakas organization, the Rotary Club of Seattle #4, and private donors.