On Being Despised: Growing up a Congolese Refugee in Dar es Salaam
The vast majority of Congolese refugee children living without papers in Dar es Salaam experience extreme hardship and marginalization. The material conditions in which they live are insufficient to meet their daily needs for adequate food, shelter, and health care. Like their parents, most boys and girls regularly speak of feeling hungry, tired, and worn out. They try at every opportunity to stem their chronic hunger and ill health. They work hard to contribute to the survival of their families through household chores, paid work, or exchanging services for food, soap, favours, or money. However, despite the sometimes overwhelming nature of these problems, children from as young as 9 argue that the worst part of their lives is not their material deprivation. Rather, it is the social exclusion, discrimination, and harassment that they experience on a daily basis. As ‘illegals’, they not only fear deportation, forcible removal to refugee camps, and imprisonment, but they also see signs everywhere that they are not wanted in Tanzania. Such a hostile environment leads most children to feel not only marginalized, but reduced to little else than ‘animals’ or ‘garbage’, as Munga,1 aged 16, put it.
KeywordsSocial Exclusion Household Chore Refugee Camp Material Deprivation Refugee Child
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