Story by Water Mission | Photos by Sean Sheridan
In Ugandan refugee settlements, we have served more than 230,000 people to date. But much remains to be done to keep improving the living conditions of refugees and their hosts. These hosts are often-marginalized Ugandan communities who absorb the influx of people fleeing violence, famine, and war in places like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hosts share their already-limited resources and land.
In our years of work in these settlements, we’ve witnessed and been a part of moments of progress, reconciliation, and joy – moments that spark hope. As Tom Kisubi, Water Mission’s country director for Uganda, puts it, there is much to be hopeful for.
For this photo essay, we interviewed Tom about his hopes for safe water for refugee settlements, his team, and his country, and paired his thoughts and sentiments with photographs capturing this optimistic outlook.
Hope for today
“The country of Uganda is a very peaceful country. They allow for the refugees to enjoy and experience peace and joy, even when they are not in their mother-country. Little instruments have been put in place to allow this. There exists a comprehensive refugee framework and plan.”
“Whatever is given to refugees is also given to host communities… this has been done in schools, health centers, roads… used by both refugee and host communities… Of course, this brings hope, when you know that people in the refugee environment are suffering and the international community is aware that host communities [might also be suffering]… so support is being deliberately channeled to hosting countries for their refugee-hosting work.”
“We, along with our brothers and sisters, are hopeful that things will change… for their school, for their healthcare, having safe and clean water, good hygiene.”
“These are basics… I think there is hope that Water Mission as a team is doing a lot in ensuring that these basic resources are in place, supporting refugees and host communities… We work to ensure they get basic services.”
“They can access more of the very basics of life. I’m very hopeful for that.”
Hope for tomorrow
“We hope to continue conducting operation and management of water systems in the refugee settlements, but also sanitation and hygiene services. We hope to construct additional water supply systems and organize those systems to extend service, hence, serve people better.”
“We are increasing functionality and sustainability to better serve people.”
“We hope to continue engaging refugee leaders and other stakeholders as we do our work, for the betterment of refugees. We hope to be a resource to others, including UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency.”
Hope for the long-term
“I believe that the Lord has put us here for a reason. It’s no coincidence that things are happening in Uganda. We have a tremendous team here. We have a tremendous leadership. And so, our prayer request is for the Lord to guide us on how to improve every day and how to face challenges. These challenges are good because they give us something to think about every day. They give us cross-points in the road that hadn’t been there before. Challenges can overwhelm but they are something to pray and hope for.”
“I pray the Lord gives us protection, for us and for our families… for our staff in the field… they are going out every day… pray the Lord also keeps them in good health.”
“Also, I pray to the Lord… that there is reconciliation among the people we are serving… I pray for the countries where they came from that they would be reunited to their homes and their families.”
“I pray that the Lord guides us on what needs to be done… every day we are looking for better ways of serving, better ways of managing resources… which have been put in our custody and management. The Lord gives us knowledge in how to do that. We believe the Lord is with us, that whatever we do will glorify His name.”
Give safe water to refugee settlements and host communities.
Tom Kisubi was born in Jinja, Uganda, on the shores of Lake Victoria. He joined Water Mission as a project engineer in2010 and became the country director for the Uganda program in 2019. He is a certified professional engineer with the Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers, as well as a certified project manager with the Project Management Institute.
Mr. Kisubi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Makerere University. He earned a post-graduate degree in project planning and management. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in water and sanitation engineering.