Bemeriki Bisimwa Dusabe has been practicing permaculture for most of his life, even before he had the term “permaculture” to describe the way he was working with the land and community in his homeland in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He continued to practice when he lived in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya and has now been building community and providing for his family this way for the thirteen years he has lived in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement, Uganda.
Already a social worker and qualified teacher, Bemeriki has been supporting his community in Rwamwanja to promote peace, manage conflict and foster resilience and self-reliance for women and young people for over a decade now.
With a clear vision of the positive impact that he would like to see in these refugee camps including better nutrition for pregnant women and young children and the rehabilitation of the natural environment, Bemeriki established a community-based organisation called Rwamwanja Rural Foundation Limited (RRF Ltd) so that they can provide health care and positive education including permaculture for women and young people.
Since completing his permaculture design certificate and permaculture educator certificate through a scholarship provided by the Permaculture Education Institute in 2020 he is in huge demand across several refugee settlements as word spreads about his teaching and community-building skills.
In January the Ethos Foundation supported Bemeriki to travel to a refugee settlement in Kitgum in the very north of Uganda to establish a permayouth program and train the first twenty-eight permayouth.
He was joined in this training by Paulinho Josaphat who was also sponsored to travel from Nakivale settlement to be mentored by Bemeriki and co-teach some of the program. The permayouth in Kitgum are now actively engaged with the global permayouth group and continuing to learn and teach others, creating a wonderful ripple-effect within their community.
In early March this year Bemeriki ran a wonderfully successful permaculture design course for women in Rwamwanja which created a significant opportunity to connect the refugee women (mostly Congolese) with women from the host community in Uganda.
Not only did these women spend two weeks learning how to use permaculture to grow food and their livelihoods, they also bridged the gap between these two communities and were able to form strong bonds and see that they can all work together rather than being afraid or disinterested in each other.
At the completion of the course the women were all provided with an array of gardening tools, donated by the Ethos Foundation, so that they could put their learning in to practice straight away. There are two fantastic videos featuring these enthusiastic learners that you can watch here and here.
Bemeriki has also travelled to the Nakivale Refugee Settlement this year to run a permaculture design course and will be co-teaching this with Paulinho. They will also be running a changemakers program to educate, inspire and mentor Nakivale residents to develop their own local enterprises.
Moving forward the courses in Nakivale will be taught by local teachers with support of the new East African Refugee Permaculture Network that they have created together.
Many people in these refugee camps are youths and will be the leaders of tomorrow. We can help to create lasting change by supporting them with education, practical skills and the tools needed to build resilient community systems.
The cost of the two-week PDC courses that are being delivered and already changing the wellbeing of dozens of people across Uganda and Kenya will be around $3900 USD for the two-week course. This not only covers the cost of educating twenty-eight people but also to provide them with tools, seeds and start-up support and a healthy meal for each day the course is running.