The human journey 

This weekend, while travelling, I watched a thought provoking film called ‘The Good Lie‘. The film ‘follows’ four very young Sudanese refugees (some of the Lost Boys of Sudan) who are forced to walk +900 kilometres through Sudan, to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, to flee Sudan after their families lives were taken during the Sudanese civil war.

What made this film particularly thought provoking was not the atrocities they witnessed on their long journey through Sudan, and how these experiences affected their future lives, but more importantly, the way people are treated in refugee camps, and, if refugees are ‘lucky’ to be relocated to another country, how hard it is for them to fit in and to settle.

This problem is still current. Kakuma Refugee Camp was founded in 1992 and today, it still serves over 179,000 people who have fled wars and violence in neighbouring countries (Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, D.R. Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Eritrea and Uganda). 179000 people ‘trapped’ in this “small city” of thatched roof huts, tents, and mud abodes. Living inside the camp is equally prison and exile. Inside this small city at the edge of the desert, children age into adulthood and hope fades to resignation; a kind of hostage life for many refugees.

Watching ‘The Good Lie’ and reading more about Kakuma has made me even more sympathetic to the plight of the thousands of refugees who land every day on our European shores from Syria, Eritrea and beyond, to try to find sanctuary and a future in Europe. These people do not choose to leave their country; they choose to live. They choose to offer their children some form of hope for the future. I don’t believe that these refugees can be condemned for wanting the same things that we all want in our lives; safety, love and belonging, esteem and education.

I have heard so many refugees on television say that they are humans, so why are we treating them like animals. We are indeed all on a human journey. Fellow Europeans, what we need to do, is to open up our hearts and minds to the issues that are playing out around us in the world; and to ensure that our local councillors and politicians make the right decisions to accept as many refugees as we can into Europe and the UK. You can also help. Choose the charity of your choice; give money, clothing, your time but, give.

We are living in the best of times and the worst of times and realise that given different circumstances, that this could just as easily be you.

Helping dreams come true in Africa

It no longer surprises me when people I know and admire, send me emails about the fantastic charities they are supporting. Lisette van der Ham volunteers at Sypo, a Dutch NGO, which was started in 2003 to support entrepreneurial projects in the Mukono and Buikwe districts in Uganda.

Initially, Sypo worked with a Ugandan partner to give loans to women in Uganda. The non-paternalistic nature of their approach combined with their emphasis on efficiency meant that though the years the focus of the NGO shifted to microfinance; women choose what to do with their loans and repay with interest, instead of having to be thankful for Western-planned handouts.

The NGO now offers low-cost, accessible and transparent loans to rural Ugandan women, tailored to their needs. And, their ambition is to build a microfinance company with a portfolio of 3,000 loans by the end of 2015, whilst maintaining current repayments of over 99%.

Black, white, yellow, brown and all the colours in between; women around the world all have dreams and want similar things; to improve the lives of their families; get an education; enjoy life, often by starting or expanding a simple business.

You can help make a dream come true.

Watch the video
Learn how it works
Review the loans and choose a project to sponsor

Thanks for sharing Lisette!