Odetta Mborige and her husband fled to Makpandu camp in 2012, escaping from the Central African Republic at the peak of the killings, attacks and rapes at the hands of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army.
Like most new arrivals at the camp in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State, they find life tough, but have no plans to move on. “When we started camping here the host community was very harsh to us so. Back then we were not free, but as time went on they realised we were not bad people,” says Mborige. “Nobody chooses to suffer.”
But I will go home one day.
Like thousands of refugees living at the camp, Mborige and her family rely on food aid distributed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other aid agencies. To supplement the limited quantities from the agencies, she grows maize and cassava on a small plot of land.
From her harvest, she sells seasonal produce to buy basics for their family and clothes for her two children who were born in the camp. Mborige’s husband spends his days in the bush, chopping down trees that he later burns to make charcoal to sell.
Western Equatoria State, which borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, has long served as an emergency second home to displaced people from neighbouring countries.
The Mborige family lives in a settlement of makeshift houses and they explain that they cannot move freely, partly due to the conflicts raging in many parts of South Sudan.
“We are still happy, despite the challenges here in the camp,” says Mborige, sitting under a tree next to her two grass thatched houses. “But I will go home one day.”