the pregnant mother

Congolese refugee Sarah holds her son at the entrance to their home in Rwanda’s Gihembe camp. She struggles with some of the most basic household tasks, such as cooking, because of a lack of electricity. ©UNHCR/Hannah Maule-ffinch

Sarah stands outside her shelter in Rwanda’s Gihembe camp, wearing a long green, white and black striped dress. She has a calm and elegant demeanour, with her high cheekbones, arched eyebrows and soft face. Sarah is four months pregnant with her second child. Her two-year-old son sits by her side.

When Sarah was six-years-old, she was forced to flee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Rwanda with her parents. They journeyed for two months, making their way to Rwanda, in search of safety.

Gihembe camp provided Sarah with protection, away from violence. Still, life is difficult. Her parents passed away in the camp and Sarah was left having to fend for herself. “Before we fled, life was good for us. We had property and my family could meet our needs.”

One of the biggest challenges Sarah faces is that there is no electricity in the camp. This becomes a challenge for a number of reasons. In one regard, it severely limits Sarah’s personal safety. Stepping outside of her house at nightfall is not an option for Sarah as she explains, “I don’t feel safe because it is so dark, and it worries me.”

No electricity also makes everyday tasks such as cooking severely challenging.

When asked how access to energy would impact her life, Sarah’s says: “I could go inside my house during the night and I would see. I could search for something and find it easily. That would make me very happy.”