Searching for a Place of Refuge

July 29, 2013 • Uganda

A young woman forced to flee her home in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains hopeful in the face of adversity

By Kaitlyn McDonald, a Samaritan’s Purse staff member helping refugees in Uganda. 

Zawadi proudly held out her newborn baby for me to see. He slept peacefully in his mother’s arms, unaware of the turmoil that brought his family to this place.

“I ran because I heard guns,” Zawadi said when I asked her how she came to the Transit Centre in Bundibugyo, Uganda. “There was no time to pack anything. I left with my husband and 2-year-old son, and we only brought the clothes on our back.”

Zawadi is one of the thousands of refugees who have fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo since fighting erupted on July 11. Like Zawadi, most ran when the rebels drew near. They left behind their homes and livelihoods, only bringing their loved ones with them.

Zawadi said that although the journey to the Ugandan border was only one day by foot, the trip was difficult for her as she was nine months pregnant. When they reached the border, Zawadi was separated from her husband among the throngs of refugees. She had no choice but to move on to a refugee camp so she could take care of her son and unborn child. She was brought to the transit center in Bundibugyo, where she has spent the last week. It was here that she gave birth to her healthy baby boy, now only a few days old.

As Zawadi shared her story, I tried to imagine myself in her place. We are both 23 years old, but the responsibilities and burdens she carries exceed anything I have ever known. Her daily life is now a struggle as she tries to find someone willing to share their shelter with her and her sons. She misses her husband and her home. And she does not know what the future holds for her young family. Will they ever be able to find a secure place to call home?

Yet Zawadi remained strong and hopeful. She is grateful that her children are safe, and she is confident that she will be reunited with her husband. She prays that God will meet her family’s daily needs, and she trusts that her prayers will be answered.

Before leaving Zawadi, I told her that I will pray for her, and I will ask others to do the same.  Please keep her, her family, and fellow refugees in your prayers during this time of upheaval and uncertainty. And please pray that Samaritan’s Purse will be able to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all the people at the Transit Center in Bundibugyo.

Read more about what Samaritan’s Purse is doing to help those affected by the current refugee situation in Uganda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.