A refugee and role model

A refugee and role model

Publication info

Kerstin Blidi

Oliver Taban is living as a refugee in Uganda for the second time. The 30-year-old South Sudanese grew up in Uganda before returning to what was then southern Sudan in 2004, only to flee again in 2016.  

Oliver’s home is Rhino Camp, a settlement of South Sudanese refugees in northwestern Uganda, where he lives with his wife and young daughter. Although he once worked as a civil servant in Juba, South Sudan, today being a role model is Oliver’s job.   

 “It’s important for the men to understand that they have an important role to play in a marriage, even if they are no longer able to provide for their family,” Oliver says. “The wife and the husband need to work together; the family life is a matter for both.” 

Since the spike in violence in South Sudan in July 2016, there has been a major influx of hundreds of thousands South Sudanese refugees in northwestern Uganda making it the lead refugee-hosting country in Africa. There are more than 1 million refugees from South Sudan and DRC in Uganda.  

Asking men to re-think their relationships with their wives wasn’t an easy task. “But many horrible things happened to them and their wives back in South Sudan and on their journey to Uganda,” he says.     

With support from CARE, Oliver helps the camp’s men adjust to their new lives at Rhino. With few options for work, many are unable to provide for their families and struggle to accept this new status. To cope with this loss of self-esteem, often coupled with hopelessness, some men resort to alcohol and drugs with often devastating consequences for their wives and families, including domestic and gender-based violence. 

“We are all refugees and in this together,” he says. “We need to support each other so that we can have a better life, especially our children.” 

 Kerstin Blidi is Fundraising Coordinator at CARE International.

Oliver Taban helps husbands and wives find common ground in Rhino Camp, a settlement of South Sudanese refugees in northwestern Uganda. Photo credit: Edward Ahonobadha