Assignment for Oxfam Novib
Together with her seven children and thousands of other villagers Patience fled from her home in October 2014. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels attacked her village in the Mavivi area in North Kivu and massacred the population with machetes. More than 250 people were killed, including Patience's husband. Patience was forced to flee and leave everything behind during the rebel attack. Now, nine months later, she lives with a host family in another village. A family with six children of themselves but they nonetheless share their small house and the meager food with Patience and her seven children. "We did not know her but we welcomed her and her children anyway," tell Paluku Mantha and Katsuva Mandevu. "But we have too little space for all of us. Everyone sleeps on the floor and we have to help each other to find enough food."
In January 2015, Oxfam Novib, together with the local partner organization MAAMS, provided emergency relief to 2,250 of the 2,750 displaced families that were hosted by the local community. Oxfam Novib/MAAMS provided basic necessities to survive such as blankets, mattresses, clothing and food to thousands of Internally Displaced People (IDPs). However, the host village where the IDPs had sought refuge was attacked and looted as well in May 2015. Once again they had to flee and leave everything behind. It forced them to sleep on the streets and in churches and after some time they decided to return to the host village despite their fears. They found many of the houses to have been looted by the rebels and their humble belongings disappeared again, including the basic supplies they had received from Oxfam Novib / MAAMS.
Life in this area is extremely difficult and people suffer on a daily basis. When asked about her future Patience looks defeated: "The future? I have no future. We are suffering here. I cannot go back to my village, it's too dangerous. My husband is dead and I have to take care of our seven children by myself. What can I do? What should I do?"
For Patience and the other IDPs life is a daily struggle to survive. Along with the family that hosts her, she tries to gather enough food every day to feed all the children. If they cannot find enough food they drink hot water in order not to have to go to bed on an empty stomach.
The immediate needs of the IDPs and their host families consist mainly of housing, food, medicine and schooling for children. But what they really need is peace. Peace to return to their villages and to be able to continue their farming livelihoods.