Posted by Vi Hughes on Jun 07, 2022
This week we heard from Patrick Kizeke, a Canadian social worker who came to Canada from the Congo via Uganda many years ago. His family fled the Congo twenty-four years ago when the perpetrators of the Rwanda genocide moved into the Congo and started doing the same thing there as well. Anyone who remotely looked like Tutsi was persecuted, run out of their homes and their towns and villages were destroyed. Patrick’s family was among these people. His family were well educated and prosperous urban dwellers. He remembers when as a child, his school was attacked by gunmen and the children were sent home from school in the middle of the day. While walking home he was met by his mother and grandmother who told him they could not go home, they had to keep walking. He said that they walked for four days until they reached what they thought was a safe place. This turned out not to be true so they moved on to a refugee camp in the neighboring country of Uganda. In Uganda they faced a big language barrier. His family was fluent in several languages, but none of them were spoken in Uganda. His family were now destitute refugees. They were given a machete and a small patch of land to live on, but they knew nothing about farming, or how to build a home from scratch. They managed to live there for two years until his father finally made it out of the Congo, having been able to sell their home. They now had some money and were able to move out of the refugee camp and into Kampala. They lived in Kampala for eight years before finally coming to Canada.
A few years ago Patrick set up the ‘Giving Refugees Hope in Uganda’ foundation, based in Spruce Grove, Alberta with Canadian charitable status, to help refugees living in Uganda, who have gone there to escape violence elsewhere in Africa. They have nine unpaid board members in Canada and two paid staff in Uganda who are supported privately. They support several programs to help these refugees. They provide sponsorships for children to be able to attend school (which must be privately paid for in Uganda) , they help families find housing and they also provide some money for food. They fund a training center for women to learn occupational skills like sewing and hairdressing. They provide water filters for people and also teaching on health issues. They are also in the final stages of building a medical center next to one of the refugee camps. Anyone interested in giving to any of their causes can learn more on their website grhu.org, or by sending an email to patrick@grhu.org or by phone at 587-709-2061.