Unexpected stories of hope

REBUILDING LIVES WITH BEADS AND A MEGAPHONE.

Forced from their homes after three years of brutal civil war in South Sudan, more than a million people are starting again as refugees in special resettlement areas across the border in Uganda.

But though life is tough here, you can feel the hope. Partly that’s because Oxfam is supplying clean water to help families avoid disease and dehydration as they work to build new lives and livelihoods. But it’s also because the inspiring people you’ll meet here make it feel more like a village.

Take Sarah. She knows only too well that, when you’ve lost loved ones and fled from a war, it’s easy to lose sight of hope. But she’s also learned it’s not so easy to miss someone with a positive attitude wielding a megaphone. And that’s exactly why she uses one…

Sarah’s helping other refugees to begin again – that’s well worth shouting about.

Like so many people fleeing South Sudan, Sarah’s had an incredibly traumatic few years. Her husband was killed during the conflict in Juba and she had to run with her children – leaving everything else behind. She ended up in neighbouring Uganda’s Bidibidi refugee settlement, a 100-square-mile area near the border where the country’s government gave small plots of land to people arriving with nothing – land to grow food, feed their families and start again.

Today, thanks to our supporters, Oxfam supplies 70% of the people in Bidibidi with clean water – and we’ve also helped Sarah get an ingenious idea off the ground, too.

Bead by bead, Sarah knows she’s making a difference.

Before the conflict, Sarah enjoyed creating her own brightly coloured jewellery. Her husband would give her a lift to the local market, where she sold what she’d made to help the family earn a living.

When she got to Bidibidi, her life was consumed with getting her plot of land ready to grow food. It was extremely hard work for her and her children, so she didn’t give much thought to the jewellery she used to make and sell. But then people started to make nice comments about the necklaces she was wearing.

Sarah says, “The idea of the group just came to me like that. People started asking me how I make the necklaces. I said ‘yes, I know how to make them’. They’d bring back materials, and other women, and I started teaching them. Now, I just take the megaphone and call the women to come to the meeting.”

With help from Oxfam, Sarah hosts the group at her new home, where the women craft jewellery together to be sold at the local market. As well as putting a bit of money in their pockets – and every penny counts when you’re fighting your way out of poverty – the meetings also give them an opportunity to share their traumatic experiences in a safe space.

Sarah says, “I will stay on with the group, collecting a little money from it. It gives you something bigger too, something that you can push life on with. So I am staying happy because of that.”

Oxfam helps Sarah run her group. The group are helping each other start again.

In Bidibidi, your support means Oxfam is helping small businesses to pop up all over the place – from handicrafts to barber shops. It’s helping families to take their first steps out of poverty and it’s creating new communities. Right now, thousands of people are starting all over again – together.

From war zones to refugee settlements, with Oxfam you’ll find hope in unexpected places this Christmas.

Click here to read more amazing stories of how your support keeps hope alive for people fighting their way out of poverty.