Bringing hope and learning to kids in the Kakuma Refugee Camp

Simon Puot with some of his students. Simon, who is a refugee himself, is a headmaster at emergency schools run by the Lutheran World Federation at the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Simon Puot with some of his students. Simon, who is a refugee himself, is a headmaster at emergency schools run by the Lutheran World Federation at the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Simon Puot was forced to flee South Sudan when conflict erupted in December 2013 in the world’s newest country. His three brothers were killed soon after the start of the conflict and their houses and properties torched. Simon was able to escape, and is one of over 70,000 South Sudanese who have sought refuge within Kenya’s borders. He has lost contact with his parents and remaining relatives.

“There is nothing I can do, I hope God can protect them wherever they are.”

Simon was working for an NGO in South Sudan when he was forced to flee. In Kakuma refugee camp, Simon is using his skills in a new way−as headmaster for the emergency schools funded by the Lutheran World Federation. The South Sudanese put a great importance on schooling and the need for Simon’s leadership and skills are great—over 4,500 students are registered at the emergency schools in Kakuma, a number that is expected to grow to 10,000.

Despite the hardships Simon faces himself as a refugee and the challenging circumstances that exist in Kakuma, he is doing everything he can to better the situation for those who have had their lives uprooted due to the conflict in South Sudan.

When asked why he chooses to teach, Simon said “to help my brothers and sisters who have run away from war in South Sudan to better their lives through education. Being a teacher in this situation is work that I like to do.”

Currently over 200 students are sharing one classroom, and there is a great need for resources such as books, black boards and school materials.

Students attend class in a tent in the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Students attend class in a tent in the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

The school supplies that will come in CLWR’s Road to Kakuma aid shipment will help fill this need (click here to learn more about how you can “join us” on the Road to Kakuma, by making a donation to the cost of transporting this shipment to this remote region).

The tents that are used as classrooms are very hot and strong winds often blow them down. Permanent structures are needed to replace the tents, especially once the heavy rains come.

Some of the tents the emergency schools are housed in at Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Some of the tents the emergency schools are housed in at Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Apart from being institutions for learning, emergency schools are life-saving—they offer protection services to children and provide a safe space to learn. In schools, children are less likely to be abused, exploited for labour and subject to violence. Emergency schools offer hope too. In school, children not only learn their subjects, but they also have opportunities to play, meet friends, do sports, and learn skills and knowledge that will help them to build a better future.

This World Refugee Day, CLWR wants to highlight the courage and strength of refugees like Simon and share the important contributions they make to their communities. Thank you, Simon!

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