Refugee mum gets fresh start

Self Help AfricaEnterprise Development, News, Zambia

It’s been almost 25 years since Janet has been home. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Janet fled her village when she was just a small girl. At the height of the ethnic conflicts in the country, soldiers attacked her village, killing her mother in front of her eyes.

“They killed my mum with a machete and hit me as well. I had to run away,” she recalls. “I didn’t know where I was going, I was just following the crowd. I fled on my own. To this day, I don’t know if my father is still alive or not.”

After years of living a nomadic life, Janet finally arrived in Zambia and settled in Meheba, a UNHCR-run refugee camp. She’s since married and had four children, but has never been able to return home to DRC.

Last year, Janet started working with Self Help Africa and the UNHCR as part of a farmer graduation project in Meheba camp. The project aims to train 300 refugee families like Janet’s to become self-sufficient farmers. Each participating household is assigned a plot of land and is provided with agricultural training, as well as seeds, equipment and livestock.


With Self Help Africa’s support, Janet learned how to rear her own goats. Since then, she has successfully set up a meat stall, and sells barbecued meat to the people living in and around the camp.

“I use my income to buy food for my family. Two of my children are going to school. It makes me happy, because I never had the chance to go to school myself. I hope they will be able to continue their studies, so they can get good jobs.”