Last summer, aid organizations and the Ethiopian government opened a new refugee camp to help accommodate thousands of people fleeing fighting in Sudan. Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR), a Winnipeg-based humanitarian organization, has been supporting the Bambasi camp, located in western Ethiopia and a safe haven to over 12,000 people.
Robert Granke, executive director of CLWR, will visit Bambasi on March 26. He will meet with people living there, and visit the work of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), CLWR’s partner in the camp. The LWF is providing clean water and sanitation, livelihood training, and community-based psychosocial programming.
“The basic need for water, food, shelter, and sanitation is crucial and at the top of most people’s minds when they think of helping refugees,” says Granke. “But what is also important is helping people recover from the trauma of losing homes and loved ones. We do this by teaching skills that help people care for themselves and their families, economically, emotionally, and socially.”
CLWR has supported the LWF in providing permanent sources of water. Three wells have been completed, with more under construction. Latrines have been built, and the distribution of soap and water treatment kits help to stop the spread of disease.
Camp residents are learning how to garden. With tools and seeds, they can add vegetables like radishes and cabbages to the rations they receive at the camp.
Soccer and volleyball matches for youth, classes on food preparation, and community conversations on stress management all help to create healthy social networks, teach useful skills, and promote emotional well-being.
Most of the people living in Bambasi come from Sudan’s Blue Nile state, where fighting between Sudanese government forces and a rebel group (the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N) has driven thousands from their homes.