Hope and resilience: Sylvie’s life in Buporo refugee camp

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When Sylvie’s husband died of disease in Buporo refugee camp, it was not only heartbreaking for this young mother and her four children. It was also terrifying. Sylvie’s days became entirely focused on finding food for the children to eat and safe water to drink. And with no husband, the family instantly became vulnerable to violence. Sylvie was terrified that a man might assault her.

The lives of women and children in refugee camps around the world are fraught with dangers. Most have fled violence in their own countries or villages – be it Syria, Yemen, Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo – like Sylvie.

In refugee camps, they face the additional threat of disease. Starvation. Sexual violence.

As an Oxfam supporter and champion against poverty, you know that there are more displaced people on our planet today than at any other time in history. The reasons are complex – generally rooted in greed, power struggles and fear.

You and I can feel like there is little we can do in the face of such overwhelming need. Such huge numbers. But there absolutely is.

We can help individual refugees like Sylvie and her children.

And it all begins with water.

In refugee camps around the world, Oxfam is building water stations and latrines. Getting clean drinking water to families like Sylvie’s. Keeping people alive.

Your support is powerful, and we need your help to continue our lifesaving work. After all they have been through, you can ensure refugee families are treated with dignity and care. We need your help to continue this life-giving work.

As you know, Oxfam are water experts. In humanitarian crises, people turn to us – including other international development agencies working to protect refugees and children. They know that we have the skills and the knowledge to get clean water in, fast.

“My husband’s stomach was hurting. He was sick for one week, and went to hospital when the problem got worse. But when he got there, he died.” – Sylvie

In fact, for children and families in crisis settings, the single most important thing we can provide is water, sanitation and hygiene. We call this program WASH.

Everybody has a need and a right to safe water and hygiene. And when they don’t have these basic facilities, disease spreads. People get sick. Some die.

Around the world, we are bringing WASH programs to refugee camps. And you can help. Here are examples of what your donation can fund:

  • In Buporo camp, there was only one water tank. “But now there are many water points and there is enough for everyone,” says Sylvie. “It has solved the problem of fighting over water and people can shower and wash their clothes. It has reduced the incidents of diarrhea in the camp.” You helped Oxfam install two tanks on the hill above the camp that capture and pipe spring water down to tap stands in the camp. You have helped us train people to filter, clean and test the water to make sure it is safe to drink.
  • In Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, you have helped Oxfam get the community involved in designing and installing the camp’s toilets and shower stalls, as well as water taps. Each block is now adorned with tiles painted by the camp’s children. It’s a small thing. But it’s also a big thing – because it means that these people in crisis have dignity, and have ownership over a part of their lives.

Ensuring women have safe access to the toilets and showers by including locks on the inside of doors and lighting for access in the dark. Providing safe, local water sources and facilitating access to services for vulnerable people such as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, or survivors of violence.

Tap stands. Hand-washing stations. Toilets. Water tanks and pipelines. This is all simple technology, really. Whether it’s conflict, flooding or drought, women like Sylvie are going to extreme lengths just to survive. From the gift of clean water, to food, to support rebuilding their livelihoods – together we can give them the hope they need to help their families come back stronger.

When you give to Oxfam, your gift provides safety and security to women like Sylvie.

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