In the past, the refugee crisis in Colombia has been a consistently ignored, primarily because the Colombians affected are internally displaced. They have fled to the cities because of fighting between FARC rebels and government troops in the countryside. Over 3 million people have become refugees in their own country, ignored by both their own government and the world at large.
Skills Training in Ciudad Bolivar, Bogotá
The rural area of the Ciudad Bolivar locality covers most of its area. Its urban area concentrates the poorest population in Bogotá where most of Colombia’s rural displaced enter the city. IRT partnered with a community based organisation called Fundación Cigarra to fund the renovation of a building to be used as a dedicated skills training centre, and the equipment to facilitate training in bread making. As part of the project a co-operative was also formed where the bread made will be sold and used to feed the children in Cigarra’s ongoing projects.
From 1998 to 2000 Eritrea was at war with neighbouring Ethiopia. The war revolved around the demarcation of the border between the two countries. Eritreans living in the middle of the disputed area had to flee the cross-border fighting to what they hoped were going to be temporary tented homes near the town of Senafe. In 2008, the displaced people were required to return to their former homes by the Eritrean government who stated that the land dispute had been settled. When this happened, IRT’s focus moved from emergency relief to sustainable development.
The Improved ‘Mogogo’ Stove
Mogogo stoves are used in baking Eritrea’s staple bread called injera. Traditionally the stoves use a lot of wood as fuel, are dangerous to cook on and produce a lot of smoke causing severe health problems amongst women and children. Designed by local Eritrean renewable energy specialist Debesai Ghebrehiwet Andegergis, the new stoves are designed to be fuel efficient, safe to use and produce a lot less smoke and soot. The other benefit is that in using less fuel the families are also saving money. Women around the country were also trained on how to build the new mogogo stoves so they can pass on the knowledge to other women.
The Moringa Tree
The moringa tree has so much nutritional value that it is often referred to as ‘the miracle tree’. Its leaves contain more than three times the calcium of milk, slightly more potassium than bananas, more than twice the iron of spinach, and more than twice the vitamin C of oranges. The Moringa tree grows fast and is well suited to dry environments, which is why it is doing so well in Eritrea. The trees serve as protection from sand storms and when planted closely together they form a natural barrier to keep grazing cattle in place. IRT funded the distribution of the Moringa tree to numerous villages throughout the region of Zoba Gash-Barka; in total, providing 3,000 seedlings to help 1,000 people.
Over the last 50 years Jordan has welcomed millions of Palestinian refugees fleeing the ongoing violence between the Israelis and Palestinians. Over the last 15 years it has also welcomed desperate Iraqis, first of all fleeing the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein and more recently from the indiscriminate violence caused by insurgents.
School for Blind and Low Vision Children in Irbid
The school is also open to sighted children and is the only school in the country that integrates blind and low vision children. IRT supported the building of two classrooms in 2005 and the salary of one of the five Braille teachers at the school. Most of the teaching aids were simple but very practical and locally made. IRT was able to provide the school with much needed Braille machines.
Up until the 9th of July 2011, South Sudan and Sudan were one country, ruled by one government based in the capital city Khartoum. IRT today is still active in South Sudan, but not in Sudan. However, in the past we also supported projects in the North around the Khartoum and Jabarona areas.
Khartoum is the capital city of Sudan. IRT funded several projects connected to hospitals in the city, providing care for the internally displaced. One major project we funded was Saint Mary’s Maternity Hospital, run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters in collaboration with local doctors, midwives and nurses. Although the majority of the mothers who gave birth to their children here were refugees from the civil war regions in southern Sudan, the house was open equally to Muslim women. Every month an average of around 200 children were born here. IRT helped progress the modernisation of the hospital, providing new equipment for the operation theatre, the installation of an incubator ward for premature deliveries and an analytical laboratory.
Jabarona Displacement Camp
Jabarona was a displacement camp on the outskirts of Khartoum. Thousands of people fled to camps such as this following the violence in the Sudanese province of Darfur. Jabarona was overcrowded, unhygenic and dangerous. IRT helped to support the people in the camp.
Thailand Burma Border
IRT first started supporting projects along the Thailand/Burma border in 1997 when many Burmese were fleeing into Thailand to escape violence and persecution in Myanmar (Burma). The refugees were predominately from the Myanmar’s minority ethnic groups such as the Shan people. IRT’s support was focused on providing refugees living outside the official camps with training, education and opporunities so that they could rebuild their lives in a new country and support their families. As the political situation in Myanmar has improved fewer and fewer refugees arrived and some have even returned home. IRT finished supporting the projects in December 2016 as they became fully independent and self-sufficient.
Outreach to the Shan
The Shan State is the largest state in Burma. There has been sporadic conflict and violence in the region since 1958, when the Burmese government refused to recognise the Shan State’s claim to independence. The Outreach to the Shan programme helped refugees from the Shan State who had fled to Thailand. The focus was providing education opportunities overseen by our partner organisation, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). IRT supported a nursery school, a primary school, scholarships for older children and night classes for adults. In total we helped to assist students, both children and adults, to access education opportunities which will help them build a better future for themselves in Thailand.
Sustainable Livelihoods, Mae Sot
Mae Sot is a small town in the Tak Province of Thailand. The town is the primary gateway between Thailand and Burma and, as a result, many Burmese refugees settled in the area. While the majority of international NGOs focused their efforts on the official camp population, IRT and our partner organisation, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), aimed to support the marginalised communities living outside the camp.
IRT’s aim in partnering with JRS was to support programmes that provided Burmese refugees in the Mae Sot area with skills training and opportunities to start their own business, thus ensuring sustainable livelihoods by which they can support their families. The skills training included sewing training, enabling the refugees to find jobs in the local factories, and computer skills so they can be promoted from manual labour to office administration. Other income generating activities including pig raising and running small grocery shops and food stalls.
Supporting Local Community Organisations
IRT supported Burmese run Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in Thailand to implement various programmes supporting their local communities. The CBOs are vital to the Burmese refugees forced to live outside the camps. They provide education, advice and health services and skills training.
IRT helped to support the community groups to establish their own income generating programmes so that they could ultimately run the programmes without being reliant on outside support – support which is becoming harder for them to get.
IRT supports more projects in Uganda than in any other country. Since the early 1990s, we have been funding local initiatives, especially in the north of the country . Throughout this period we have supported many different kinds of projects; some we still support, some we have handed over to other trusts and many are now self-sustaining and no longer need IRT’s funding.
Primary Education in Gulu and Amuru Districts
It is vital that the schools can function properly, because without education the people of northern Uganda cannot possibly hope to restore the area to its previous prosperity. IRT was partnered with the Comboni Samaritans, a community based organisation made up of 40 local people mentored by the Comboni Missionary Sisters. Over the years they achieved considerable success and were awarded second prize by the Uganda Government for best practice and financial transparency. IRT supported the running of a number of projects by the Comboni Samaritans including the health and care of orphans. As part of their Primary Education Programme IRT funded:
- Building of 7 classrooms in six primary schools
- Building of 14 latrines in each of the six schools
- Provision of desks, chairs, text books and sports equipment
- Establishment of simple income-generating projects at each school
- Running awareness campaigns on the rights and needs for girls to attend school
Oxen Agricultural Project in Amuru District
In 2007 IRT started working with a local community-based group called “Farming is Good Life”. IRT’s supporters helped to supply farmers with 52 oxen, together with ploughs and seeds. The farmers also received training, not only in how to plough but also in how to manage their groups. Overall, 250 families benefited from the project and IRT helped expand the initiative which continues to assist even more families.
King of Kings School in Iganga
King of Kings School is a well-respected secondary school in southeastern Uganda. During a four year programme, IRT funded the education costs, accommodation and food of 12 pupils (11 girls, 1 boy) who were at the time internally displaced persons (IDPs). These children had no money of their own, and so they were able to earn some because we also paid for seeds and equipment to enable them to grow vegetables to sell.