Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Exchange Volunteer Mr. Alpha Ba
Although they are refugees or asylum seekers, the men, women, and youth of Dzaleka Refugee Camp have come together through Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to provide solutions to the problems they face day and night. Currently, there are more than 50 CBOs in the camp and operating in several areas such as health, education, the economy, and the environment.
Having joined this community, I am working with many of them as part of their activities. Hope Youth Work is one of them that involves sewing. They also have environmental activities that they periodically organize in partnership with other local organizations. By collaborating with them in this field, I’ve transferred my knowledge, especially my experiences with my first service in Senegal where the project of my community was about waste management. We must promote in this community the words from this famous quote: “A healthy body in a healthy environment.”
It must be said that even if one is in a refugee camp, one needs to live in good health and the basic infrastructures must be implanted there. Although local organizations and the government have built a health center, this is still not enough for medical coverage for more than 39,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and surrounding villages that come to heal. So, some individuals have had the foresight to open pharmacies to come in support. This is the case of the CBO Home-Based Care, which is a very dynamic organization, which started working for almost 3 years within the community by providing medical products such as drugs through their pharmacy. They also organize trainings on sexual and gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, and peer education.
My favorite CBO at Dzaleka is called Dzaleka Adzimayi Union (DAU), which means the Women’s Union of Dzaleka. In fact, it was born out of a group that felt the effects of sexual violence, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and all kind of reproductive health problems. Meeting these women was really emotional, especially when two program recipients exposed the problems they experienced. Although they are young, single, widowed, mothers, they come together as an organization to find solutions. Their activities revolve around capacity-building and mobilization, where seminars and workshops on various issues of gender, women’s empowerment, and a special focus on disability are conducted. They also have an advocacy program and the social action program.
The last CBO comes to facilitate the start of the life of women. Also they provide material, technical and psychosocial support to individuals and families.
The socio-economic activities are key elements at Dzaleka refugee camp that allow refugees and asylum seekers to find occupations and meet their individual or collective needs. These CBOs are clear examples of this, and creating them shows that they are also able to participate in the development and changes of their environment no matter where they are.