Maria, her husband, and their six children were living a good life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They had a large plot of land where they planted rice, maize, and beans. The income generated from their farm was more than enough to sustain their family’s lifestyle and provide for the education of their six children. With their surplus, they were building houses on their property for rental income.

Maria’s pleasant life was abruptly and brutally altered the day that armed militias attacked their home. They first killed her husband right before her eyes and then violently abused her. When she regained consciousness and strength, she gathered all her children, and they started the seven-day journey to Uganda to seek refugee status there.

Maria’s friend proudly shows off the soap that she made in an ADRA workshop in Uganda. [Photo: ADRA Canada]

For the next seven days, Maria and her children slept in the bushes, dodging armed militias and robbers. Finally, they crossed the border to the safety and protection of Uganda. After processing, Maria and her children were resettled in the Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement. They were able to obtain assistance from the Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and the United Nations World Food Programme.

To supplement meager food rations, Maria would do odd jobs in the nearby host community. However, that all changed when COVID-19 restrictions came into effect. She could not find any work. To make matters worse for Maria and her children, the World Food Programme reduced their food rations due to a loss of donor funding.

“My family and many of my fellow refugees are really struggling during this pandemic!” Maria said. “We have had distributions of basic hygiene kits, but there was never enough soap, and we worried about the spread of COVID-19.”

Maria, a refugee in Uganda, learns how to make soap at an ADRA workshop. [Photo: ADRA Canada]

Maria shared that the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has provided help during this difficult time.

“They conducted training classes on how to make soap,” Maria said. “We now have all the soap we need to keep ourselves and our homes safe. Also, now that we know how to make soap ourselves, it has given us a new income opportunity. I can see myself making a lot of soap that I can sell for profit. I believe that I will be able to make enough from this to support my six children. It is my goal to make enough so that all my children can finish school. They have big dreams in their hearts. They want to become doctors, lawyers, and teachers so that they can one day return to their homeland and help build a better Congo one day.”

Maria said that all of that would not be possible without ADRA’s assistance and emphasized she’s thankful for it.

ADRA participants show the results of the new skill they learned from ADRA. The soap will be used in their homes and sold for income. [Photo: ADRA Canada]

“May God bless ADRA for their good work,” she said.

The original version of this story was posted by ADRA Canada.

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