Gisma and her son Khamees stand outside their temporary shelter in Abu Karinka, East Darfur state, in Sudan. Photo courtesy of UMCOR Sudan
UMCOR provides emergency shelter for displaced families in Sudan
By Osman Fadul*
Gisma Fadol Al Mola Hamid lost her home, her husband, and her livelihood when armed conflict broke out in her village in East Darfur state, Sudan. She fled together with her four children and her mother to the town of Abu Karinka, seeking safety and refuge. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) “has been here to help us build our shelters,” she said.
Before the conflict erupted in their village, Um Rakoba, Gisma’s family enjoyed a happy, productive life. She had helped to make it so, working the family farm and looking after the goats, their main source of income.
But in August 2014, fighting broke out in Um Rakoba. “It was horrible,” said Gisma, 40. “Immediately, I reached for my children [one of whom has a disability] and fled to the outskirts of the village. There, we met women, children, and elderly people, who, like us, were hiding and waiting for the agonized cries of those who did not reach safety to subside.”
After a while, Gisma, her children, and her mother, who is blind, went back to their house, “or what was left of it,” Gisma said, as the home had been destroyed. “We gathered what we could find — a very few belongings — and we set off on the four-hour walk to Bakhit village and then another six-hour walk to Abu Karinka.”
|Gisma and her son Fadol — one of four of her children — find refuge and safety in a temporary shelter provided by UMCOR. Photo courtesy of UMCOR Sudan
Like many internally displaced persons (IDP) who have fled to Abu Karinka from Um Rakoba, Gisma needed to find adequate shelter for her family. But she had no income with which to purchase materials to erect a home and acquire necessary household items.
“We were forced to depend on others for food and other necessities for survival,” Gisma said. She relied, as many IDPs in Abu Karinka do, on relatives for a place to stay, practically living on top of each other in cramped quarters.
After armed conflict broke out in Abu Karinka in May 2015, the family’s shelter was burned to the ground, and Gisma, her mother and children were again homeless.
In December, with funding from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), UMCOR distributed materials for temporary emergency shelters to IDP families in Abu Karinka, including Gisma’s family. Each household received 15 palm leaves, a plastic sheet, a bundle of large and medium bamboo, a kilo of cord, and a liter of used engine oil. The completed structure is fully supported by bamboo frames and covered with millet straw.
Gisma said the shelter has given her and her family security and storage space for the few belongings they salvaged from the attack on their village, and an enclosed space where she and her children can enjoy their privacy.
“I am eternally grateful that I am one of the hundreds who have received help and support from UMCOR,” Gisma said. “Without it, my family and I would continue to be a burden to our relatives in their very limited space.”
*Osman Fadul is the office manager for UMCOR’s field office in Adilla, East Darfur, Sudan.