Mima is a 32 year old mother of six children. She is also a refugee in the Lovua Settlement, Lunda Norte, Angola.
Since April 2017, thousands of people have crossed the northern border of Angola, fleeing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The outbreak of violence in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), triggered the internal displacement of some 1.4 million persons and the flight of over 33,000 refugees into Lunda Norte Province, Angola.
It’s estimated there are 20,555 refugees living in Lovua Settlement at the moment. While this is less than the 50,000 people who were expected to cross the border from the DRC, it is still a devastating number of people who have chosen to leave their homes due to fighting.
After fleeing the war in Congo Mima said “Angola received us well and we lived for a time in the resettlement Centre in Cacanda, in Dundo; there I lived together with my husband and our children”.
This family’s drama was far from ending. A few months after moving to Angola Mima’s husband passed away and one of her sons got very sick with meningitis. Suddenly the 5-year-old boy started to lose all his movements and stopped walking. Mima was understandably terrified as she was still recovering from her husband’s death. “It is a tremendous suffering for me and my son who should be walking.”
Mima is visibly struggling to cope with her son’s illness and her other responsibilities. She has to single handedly sustain her other children, one of whom is a seven month old baby.
“Sometimes I have to leave my children while I braid someone's hair in exchange for 1kg of maize meal, oil or beans to increase our monthly food rations,” says Mima
One of the major concerns at the settlement in Lovua has been the lack of livelihood opportunities. The Lovua settlement is 100km away from the provincial capital Dundo and there are very few livelihood opportunities in the settlement and surroundings.
In January 2018, World Vision conducted a survey and concluded that agriculture is the key livelihood opportunity for refugees living in the Lovua settlement.
As such, agricultural plots were cleared and allocated to 525 refugees with some agricultural experience, including Mima. In order to diversify their diet by growing crops which normally are not included in their monthly food rations, such as maize, cassava and vegetables. Most of the produce is to cover her household needs but the rest she sells to the local market to acquire other household needs. Seeds and tools were distributed in 2018 as part of a livelihoods program but this activity will only be intensified by mid-2019 to ensure refugees depend less on handouts.
Despite being grateful for her plot of land, cultivating it is another activity that adds to Mima’s already full she time schedule as she also manages the sale of her crops on top of looking after her sick son, her other children and carrying out other odd jobs to earn money for the family.
This year, specifically compared to the sectors World Vision has covered in 2018, the focus is more on development-oriented activities such as the construction of permanent housing, agricultural diversification and expansion, livelihood opportunities for youth in particular, and intensifying Child Protection and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) activities.