Welcome to HEARTHS, where our mission and purpose is to HElp African Refugees To Help themSelves
Ghana is the homeland for many refugees, particularly, refugees from Liberia, Sierra Lone and Ivory Coast. The refugees’ camp in Ghana is commonly known as Buduburam Liberian Refugees Camp. This is because Liberian refugees were the first to settle on the land early in the 90s during the acute Civil War in Liberia from 1989 to 1996, as well as the second Brutal civil war face two fought between 1999 and 2003. Buduburam Refugees Camp was established to accommodate the influx of Liberian refugees who fled to Ghana. Initially, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided Liberian refugees in the Buduburam settlement with individual aid and relief. However, in 2012, all humanitarian aid for Liberian refugees was cut off. This has resulted the livelihood of refugees in Ghana continue to be constrained by various obstacles. These obstacles have set as a backdrop for many kids, youth, and single parents/widows.
In 2012, nevertheless, the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) advocated and allowed safe repatriation conditions for Liberians. As a result, the UNHCR discontinued refugee assistance to Liberians in Ghana, and the refugees’ settlement lost its support. During this time, some refugees returned to Liberia on repatriation. On the other hand, most of the refugees chose to remain in Ghana, fearing that Liberia was not a safe environment for them at the moment. However, the Buduburam settlement served as the center of refugees who decided to stay. Most of those Liberians who chose to stay in Ghana have devastating stories. Some lost their parents during the war, others lost their homes and there is no hope to have a place to stay when they return back to Liberia. So they have no alternative but to stay in Ghana on the Refugees camp. One of the reasons for this is the perception of insecurity.
The perception of insecurity after repatriation is highly related to personal experiences during the conflict in Liberia. Although Liberia had had election and a peace treaty was signed, that does not in any way guarantee those who lost their homes and families to be reinstated. Moreover, the formal signing of a peace treaty does not necessarily mean that the home country has become a safe and comfortable place to return to for all refugees. Another reason for which most Liberians refugees decided to stay is that many also do not have a home to stay when they return to Liberia. Many Liberians on the Buduburam Refugee Camp are traumatized and confused because of their personal life stories or experiences. It is a something that they have witnessed and have experienced for themselves.
These experiences have made it difficult for those refugees, most of whom are the youth, widows, and single mothers. Most of these people have lost their families and do not have a home to return to Liberia. For those who returning or have returned to Liberia do so on a connection basis, which they might have established with some friends to host them. Other too might have located some relatives who have survived the war.
For those refugee who are on the Buduburam refugees camp, it is paramount to note here that majority of them are struggling. Some problems many of the kids and youth, single mothers/widows encounter are: Lack of funding, education, housing facilities, feeding, just to name a few. Many of the youth on Buduburam camp do not have the financial means to go back to school. This is also true of single mothers/ widows. They do not have a regularize source of funding, thus, they struggle to feed their kids and family. Previously, the UNCHR established a secondary and Junior High School on the refugees’ camp. However, in 2012, the schools were finally closed. This also is a problem for the youth who do not have parents or guidance to assist them in school. This has made most of the youth vulnerable, adopting to social vices. This is a serious problem and if not handle with care and a “helping hand”, the future of those youth and kids would remain unquestionably bad off which would have negative impact on society.
The United Nations High Commissioner for refugees in 2012 finally withdrew all support for Liberian refugees in Ghana. Since the withdrawal, Liberian refugees at the Buduburam refugee camp have been left to provide for themselves on a daily basis as all support from humanitarian agencies came to an abrupt end. This is making living difficult for many refugees who do not have a financial source.
In 2012, the management of the Catholic Hospital in the Buduburam settlement decided to take a piece of land from refugees. In this regards, they demolished all the houses on the land and this led to the displacement of many refugees on the Buduburam Camp. This was a huge challenge to many refugees. Some resorted to be sleeping in the market places because there was no home for them anymore. They were exposed to mosquito which causes malaria. Many became sick in the process. Refugees are required to pay monthly rent for apartment.
It is against this back drop that the group HEARTHS was established in order to help refugees improve their standard of living. The abbreviation “HEARTHS” means “Helping African Refugees to Help Themselves. Hearths is an organization dedicated to serving refugees, orphans, widows and poor people in the African continent. Presently we are working with Liberians on the Buduburam camp in Ghana. Our Mission is to respond to the cries of refugees, orphans, widows and poor people in Africa by providing education, medication, food and shelter for those in need. We also focus on youth empowerment, where we inspire and motivate youth to become effective future leader.
Written by Lemuel Taylor, +233 24 535 8421, firstname.lastname@example.org
Agblorti SKM (2011) Refugee integration in Ghana: The host community’s perspective. Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/4d6f5f3f9.html (accessed 15 August 2014).