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Refugee teens making music to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in their community

Donna Coutts, June 18, 2020 6:45PM Kids News

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In this still image from the video, a teenager sings to share information about COVID-19 at Bidi Bidi. Picture: World Vision media_cameraIn this still image from the video, a teenager sings to share information about COVID-19 at Bidi Bidi. Picture: World Vision


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Teenagers in the world’s second largest refugee camp are making music to help spread the word about stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, in northwestern Uganda, is where more than 232,000 people who left their homes in South Sudan now live. (Bidi Bidi is also sometimes written as Bidibidi or Bidi-bidi.)

Though Bidi Bidi is transforming* into a permanent city, it’s very important to prevent a major outbreak of COVID-19 because people still live in cramped, makeshift* shelters and medical facilities are limited.

Communicating what COVID-19 is and how to protect yourself and others from infection is difficult, partly because of the many different languages spoken by residents and also because people are trying not to gather in large groups.

Bidi Bidi resident David, who is 17, made this film about other teenagers’ efforts to keep everyone safe from COVID-19. The film was shared with Kids News by aid organisation World Vision Australia, which works with residents at Bidi Bidi.

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 with music

A civil war* began in the African country of South Sudan in December 2013, when rival* politicians began fighting. This was two years after the country gained independence from Sudan.

After a while the fighting paused, but in July 2016, fighting began again and tens of thousands of South Sudanese people fled across the border into Uganda.

Bidi Bidi opened in August 2016 and 6000 people arrived at the camp every day.

In 2019, according to National Geographic, 700,000 South Sudanese refugees lived at Bidi Bidi and nearby settlements. At one point Bidi Bidi was the world’s biggest refugee centre and is the largest in Uganda. Sixty-six per cent of the refugees at Bidi Bidi are aged 0-17.

Uganda allows refugees to work, so there are many thriving small businesses providing everything residents need and temporary structures such as schools are slowly being replaced with permanent buildings.

A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded* fear of persecution* because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”, according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. Many refugees are escaping the effects of natural or human-made disasters.

Asylum seekers are people who say they are refugees and have fled their homes as refugees do, but their claim to refugee status has not yet been confirmed by the country to which they fled.

media_cameraCarrying water and drying washed clothes on bushes at Bidi Bidi, Uganda.

The United Nations observes World Refugee Day on June 20 each year.

This year’s theme is Every Action Counts, which means the UN would like people to understand that everyone, including refugees, can contribute to society and that every action counts in the effort to create a more just*, inclusive*, and equal world.

By the end of 2018, there were an unprecedented* 70.8 million people around the world who had been forced from home by conflict and persecution. Among them are nearly 30 million refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18.

In addition, there are also millions of stateless people, who don’t have a nationality and so can’t access basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

Source: UN

*** BESTPIX *** Rohingya Flee Into Bangladesh As Crisis Deepens media_cameraA girl carries a water jug in Kutapalong Rohingya refugee camp on February 8, 2017 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar is currently the world’s biggest refugee camp. Many people there are Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar. Picture: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

World Vision supports the needs of refugees and displaced people around the world, including through: emergency relief; provision of supplementary food; nutrition and hygiene support and child health care; and education opportunities for children and families.

You can learn more about World Vision’s work at


  • transforming: completely changing, usually for the better
  • makeshift: quickly made with whatever is at hand
  • civil war: war between opposing groups within a country
  • rival: opposition
  • well-founded: based on good evidence or reasons
  • persecution: ill treatment, especially because of race or religion
  • just: fair and following the laws or rules
  • inclusive: including everyone
  • unprecedented: never happened before


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  1. What country is Bidi Bidi in?
  2. Where have the refugees at Bidi Bidi come from and why?
  3. Why is difficult to communicate information about COVID-19 in the refugee camp?
  4. Explain the World Refugee Day theme Every Action Counts.
  5. What is World Vision? What does it do?


1. Plan a School Assembly
Plan activities for a special assembly or ceremony for your school for World Refugee Day.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Civics and Citizenship

2. Extension
Do you think the teenagers in Bidi Bidi are good role models for kids like you in Australia? Write down all of things that you think that you, and other kids, can learn from them and ways that you can show these qualities in your everyday life.

Time: allow at least 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Capability

Down-Level It
When you up-level a sentence, you do things to it to improve it: make it more interesting, or more complex.

But sometimes, when we read something it can be too complex and we don’t understand it very well. You ask someone to explain it to you, they do (in a simpler way) and you think, well why didn’t they just say that?

Go through the article and find a sentence or two that is complex, or hard to read.

Ask an adult what it means, or try and look some of the words up in the glossary.

Once you know what it means, see if you can rewrite it in a simpler way to down-level it.

Make sure you don’t change the meaning of the sentence in any way though.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Which part of this story interests you most?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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