Sunday, September 27, 2020 is the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR), as the title for his annual message, the Holy Father Pope Francis has chosen; “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee”, based on what happened to Jesus Christ who was displaced and fled with his parents.
This year, the Catholic Church celebrates this day by dedicating a special focus to refugees in their countries of origin (immigrants) as a result of disasters, wars, conflicts, famines and other expulsions and those who are currently suffering the effects of the COVID epidemic 19.
“Jesus is present in each of them, who are forced, as in Herod’s time, to flee to save their life. In their faces, we are called to recognize the face of Christ.” Pope Francis said. This truth is all the greater during the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Rwanda, there are currently no refugees in the country, but there are about 100 foreign refugees living in different camps in the country, and there are also those who have been affected by the COVID 19 epidemic, such as the loss of their jobs that allowed them to support their families.
As " Caritas" means "Love", its mission is to show love to all those who suffer, helping them to recover the trust and value that we are called to see in them, the image of Christ with which they were created.
Caritas Rwanda's assistance to refugees in 3 camps (Kiziba, Nyabiheke Mahama) and in the city of Kigali includes caring for vulnerable people such as the elderly and the sick, providing entrepreneurship training and counseling to improve their livelihoods through savings and loan groups, and assisting young people in need of special support such as young mothers.
UWITONZE Benjamin, one of the Caritas Rwanda volunteers at Nyabiheke camp in Gatsibo district, says he is one of the young people who grew up in the camp and have been living there for 14 years, says there is nothing worse than having to flee. He says he doesn't remember exactly where he was born and doesn't know what normal life is like other than being a refugee.
He added that through the UNHCR / Graduation 2020 pilot project implemented by Caritas Rwanda, he is happy to work with the organization to restore the confidence of his comrades in the Camp.
"There are many things we lack in this refugee life, but one of the things that helps people like me is to remember that we are loved and appreciated, so Caritas is one of the organizations that gives us back our confidence, and that's what I want to do for those who live in our camp," he said.
Elderly people in Mahama camp who receive food aid consider the care of Caritas Rwanda as one of the things that helped them not to lose hope in their lives as refugees.