In the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda, Evelyn, aged seven, and her extended family of 10 usually eat once a day if they’re lucky. Quite often they go for days without food. Before COVID, Evelyn’s father, James, used to work as a digger on farms, earning
US$3 a day – enough to buy food for a few days. After the pandemic, the economy collapsed leaving many people without any source of income.
For refugees who have lost everything, a lockdown doesn’t just mean being restless or working from home. No income means no food. Evelyn’s mother, Annet, says they were forced to uproot young beans they grow in the garden to make sauce
– just sauce – without any food.
Some people have even resorted to going back to South Sudan to look for supplies. “This is very dangerous,” said the village pastor. “Because our country is not safe yet. They end up getting killed as soon as they arrive there, and
others are killed while still on the road.”
Being the eldest child in her family, Evelyn helps with chores such as washing utensils, plates and cups. When Aggrey, from World Vision, arrived at her home, the family’s last meal was 24 hours before – four cups of cassava porridge –
shared among the 10 of them (quite often the adults don’t eat letting the children have more).
Aggrey saw Evelyn standing by the door looking sad and angry and asked her: “Is there anything I can do cheer you up?”
“Buy for us food,” she said, in a clear, hungry voice.