Samba Ndiaye has become a farmer following his arrival to the Inke refugee camp in north of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He fled his country, the Central African Republic, due to violence and armed conflict that ensued in the wake of clashes between Seleka and anti-Balaka militias.
“With the war, I lost everything and I had to cross the Ubangi River with my wife and seven children to seek refuge and security in the DRC,” he says. “Upon arrival at the camp, humanitarian organizations fed us, gave us shelter and we could wash… without having to pay for anything. I did not expect such goodwill. I gradually realized that I could live in this camp thanks to the solidarity of invisible people."
These “invisible people” to whom he refers include the people of the United States which funds WFP’s emergency operations for CAR refugees in the DRC. In Inke camp, WFP assists 17,000 refugees with food vouchers, amounting to $ 17 per person. Each month, they use these vouchers to buy food at WFP-organized food fairs.
On the outskirts of the camp, Samba Ndiaye is working with some fellow refugees among tomato plants and cassava in a large vegetable garden next to a pond. "Becoming a refugee is a paradoxical experience,” he says. “You experience a real disruption in your life. But it also forces you to become resourceful and determined. Although I didn’t know anything about agriculture, I decided to start planting my own vegetables with seeds I received from the Agency for Social and Economic Development (Agence de Développement Economique et Social or ADES)”.
With this support, Samba and other refugees are now growing fruits and vegetables (gumbo, moringa, chili, onions, salads and papaya) and together cultivate an area larger than a football field. Despite the sandy terrain, they are harvesting produce that gives their families varied and balanced meals. Surpluses are sold to other refugees which makes Samba happy because his own project also benefits the entire community. Other surplus is sold at the market in Gbadolite, a nearby town. "I was able to start farming thanks to WFP food fairs that protect us from hunger. Once you eat, you can work - you see, I believe that refugees have duties as well as rights."
In the camp, some call Samba "the wizard" yet his achievements are mainly due to his tireless work and positive attitude. "As refugees, we end up in a situation we haven’t chosen,” he says. “Yet we have to accept it, rather than constantly cursing events. I can say that I learned a lot of things in my misfortune, and that will be very helpful for me when I go back home, Insh' Allah”.