Since 2016, Uganda has become home to South Sudanese refugees seeking asylum from the violence of their country’s civil war. Among the 11 refugee settlements in the country, the largest is the Bidibidi settlement in the Yumbe District. Encompassing nearly 100 square miles, Bidibidi is home to 250,000 refugees, all seeking safety within Uganda’s borders. Divine Word Missionaries stationed in Uganda have taken up the call to minister to these displaced individuals, providing them with hope and a sense of belonging away from home.
The Bidibidi settlement is divided into five zones, each containing several villages. Our missionaries have made it their work to minister to these villages, spreading messages of hope and standing in solidarity with the South Sudanese people.
The Uganda Youth Projects
While ministering to these refugees, Divine Word Missionaries have not forgotten the special needs of the young people in the Bidibidi settlement. They also witnessed the horrors of South Sudan’s civil war, seeing their homes destroyed and loved ones killed. Our missionaries are planning a variety of programs and opportunities specifically for these refugee children and young people, who make up most of the population in the settlements. Having established a youth program in 2019, our missionaries are now expanding their efforts to the areas where these young individuals need it most. Divine Word Missionaries hope to help these young people cope with their lives as refugees while giving them opportunities to simply enjoy their childhood.
The Uganda Youth Projects are diverse and aimed at transforming lives in the refugee community. See our six strategic project areas below:
Formative Conferences for the Youth
Our missionaries plan to run 60 formative meetings for the youth of the Bidibidi settlement. These seminars will offer language courses, life skills training and discussions on topics such as peace, forgiveness and healing from trauma. Led by trained professionals, these gatherings will equip the youth with skills and coping mechanisms amid the challenges they face every day.
Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Community Soccer Tournament
To combat the cycle of violence and offer a positive outlet for youthful energy, our missionaries are organizing a community soccer tournament. This tournament will give young people a chance to play a sport they love while hopefully deterring them from mixing with negative influences in the community. To host the tournament across 30 villages, our missionaries will need supplies such as soccer balls, goal nets, uniforms and awards.
Celebrating Culture: Bidibidi Music Festival
Recognizing the importance of music in South Sudanese culture, our missionaries are planning the inaugural Bidibidi Music Festival, which they hope will become an annual event. The music festival will draw people from across South Sudan’s regions and unite them through their shared passion for music. To host a successful festival, our missionaries will need materials such as sheet music, awards and food while also arranging transportation.
Fostering Community: Children and Youth Days
Our missionaries are hosting another edition of Bidibidi Children and Youth Days, which brings together children from across the settlement for a celebratory three days of learning and activities. With more than700 participants expected, supplies such as food, books, decorations and first-aid kits are needed to ensure the event’s success and safety.
A Journey of Faith: Pilgrimage to Lodonga’s Minor Basilica
In 2019, Divine Word Missionaries led South Sudanese refugees on a pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a minor basilica in Lodonga. This sacred 24-mile journey, undertaken while praying for peace in South Sudan and Uganda, brought together approximately 800 participants from the settlements and 8,000 Ugandan nationals. Inspired by their previous success, our missionaries are excited to organize another walking pilgrimage to the basilica, seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace in South Sudan. With even more participants expected, the pilgrimage will require funds for food, supplies and transportation.
Help in the Classroom: Weekend Education Program
Seeing the limited access to education and overcrowded schools in the settlements, Divine Word Missionaries, in collaboration with the Church in Need organization, have built a pastoral center specifically for the children and youth of the community. To enhance the young people’s education, the center offers weekend classes covering subjects such as math, English, art, computer skills and the Bari language. Our missionaries seek financial support to pay the teachers, buy desks and provide books and other educational materials for the students.
Support Refugees This Giving Tuesday
Divine Word Missionaries’ commitment to lifting the lives of refugees in Uganda is unwavering. On Giving Tuesday 2023, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, we are asking for your support to help make the Uganda Youth Projects a reality. All the funds donated will go directly toward bringing these projects to fruition. Additionally, every dollar donated toward our goal of $22,000 will be matched. Please prayerfully consider contributing to this life-giving mission.
Your generous donations will enable the missionaries to provide essential resources, organize activities that empower the youth and make a lasting impact on the lives of these remarkable individuals.