A Campbell River man is trying to raise enough funds to bring his cousin’s family to Canada from a Ugandan refugee camp.
Norbert Ntalintumire has been working with the Christian Life Fellowship church to raise $40,000 in order to bring his cousin’s family to Campbell River.
Ntalintumire’s cousin and his family have been living in the Nakivale refugee camp in southern Uganda for roughly two years, after they fled their hometown of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to violence in the area.
“In Goma — which is on the border with Rwanda, there are lots of militia groups and rebels fighting there,” Ntalintumire said. “They come to your house and take young people to go fight for them. This happened to my cousin’s family.
“They kidnapped his older son and took him away. He was gone for a long time. They kept coming to the town, robbing, taking people. One day my cousin thought it got to be too much and they weren’t safe. They decided to leave and go to the camp in Uganda. Once they were in Uganda, his son managed to escape from the rebels. Once he got back to Goma, he couldn’t find his family. He heard that they’d left, so he went to find them in the camp in Uganda. They’re all together now.”
Though the family has been reunited in Nakivale, they still face the daily struggles of living in the eighth largest refugee camp in the world.
“In all that time, the kids haven’t been going to school,” Ntalintumire said. “They get a food ration once per month, but most of the time it’s not enough for the whole month. Eating is a struggle, having good water is a struggle. It’s too much for them.”
“Since they’ve been in the camp, I haven’t gone a day without thinking of them,” he added. “Life in the camp is beyond anything we can imagine here. It’s terrible. The kids have not gone to school, they don’t have medical care if they feel sick. Life is very very different. If they come here, not only would it be a relief for me, but it would also be a good restart for them.”
The pandemic has not made things easier for people living in the refugee camp. They face a lot of the same restrictions as Canadians, such as wearing masks, reducing contact with others and staying clean.
“What the Canadian government does once they accept the family or person coming here, they have a screening process,” Ntalintumire said. “In the screening they check your health — COVID tests and any other health issues they have.”
The church has been organizing garage sale fundraisers to help bring in money for the family. The cost of bringing a family of seven from Uganda to Canada is roughly $40,000, of which Ntalintumire says they have raised roughly half. People have also been donating directly to the church.
Donations can be made at the CLF Church’s website.