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Things to Bring to Refugee Camps

by Debra Dawson


While Deb is in Uganda, a portion of her trip will be distributing supplies to refugee camps. There is always a need to be filled in these camps, and the numbers of occupants are sadly growing. There is now a global crisis concerning refugees and displaced populations. This is largely due to war and conflicts. When packing for Deb’s trip I began thinking about what  a person needs when they have to leave everything behind and aid organizations are losing funding for supplies and food. I decided to write about what to bring to camps to help supply them.

My mother grew up in Central Africa and was only allowed two boxes of personal items. This was so that she could grab them at any time in case conflict broke out and she had to flee the country. I grew up never taking basic needs for granted, even while living in resource-rich America. It is not hard for me to envision the struggles others are facing and it always makes me want to reach out and share my good fortune.

If you plan on visiting a camp to bring them supplies, please contact the aid organizations who are already there and ask them what they need the most, and see if you can provide it. If you have a specific skill set, let them know as well. It is always better and safer to join an aid group or communicate with one while there. There are supplies that are always needed due to the conditions and number of people at the camp. If you can bring them, please do.

An important thing to bring with you to the camps is cultural sensitivity and a willingness to help. Remember that no one wishes to be in a refugee camp, but it is the safest option for them to survive. Research the culture and country you are going to and, if possible, find someone in your community that is from there. Ask them about themselves and their culture if they are comfortable with doing so. Expand your knowledge and get to know your community as well! Remember to try not to see others from your own cultural perspective but believe in our shared humanity and experiences.

Aid supplies to bring with you for the camp:

1.      Food. There is a shortage of food at all refugee camps and rations are constantly being cut back. People are not being able to get their full caloric need, and this severely effects health.

2.      Soap. We have been asked to bring soap due to the poor sanitation and hygiene environments. Bar soap is used for laundry as well.

3.      Medical supplies. All types of medical supplies are needed, but wound care is important. Scrapes and cuts can get infected so easily when there is lack of proper hygiene available. This can lead to complications and even death. The ability to suture, close, and dress a wound, is essential.

4.      Water filters. Filters, such as Life Straws, are needed to provide the option of clean water. Water is the what keeps you alive and access to it is very limited in the world.

5.      Underwear and Reusable Maxi Pads. Many women and girls have no access to underwear or reusable maxi pads for their monthly cycle. This keeps them from participating in school and other daily life activities. When they miss school it is difficult to catch up, and so many end up dropping out completely at a young age. These supplies need to be reusable due to lack of good sanitation in the camps.

6.      Strong shoes. Shoes help protect people from cuts and infection in the camps.

7.      Hygiene products. Soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes etc. are always in need, since these items are consumable and used up.

Next week I will write about what you should bring for yourself if you visit a refugee camp. We are so glad that we are able to visit the camps and help where we can. If you are unable to travel to help, consider donating to an organization that can! 

About the Author

Debra DawsonDebra Dawson

Deb Dawson is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, businesswoman, teacher, humanitarian, and philanthropist. She holds a B.S. Ed. in Education and English, and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her role as mother to biological, step, and internationally adopted children led her to write When Love is Not Enough, a memoir about the way mothers and daughters forge relationships in the face of tremendous obstacles.


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