Visiting the Kakuma Refugee Camp

On October 8, the first leg of the Road to Kakuma shipment was completed when our container arrived at the Port of Mombasa in Kenya. Thank you to all our supporters who have made this possible.

This summer CLWR staffer Derrick Nyamori returned to his native Kenya to visit friends and family. He took the opportunity to visit the Kakuma Refugee Camp to meet with Lutheran World Federation (LWF) staff and see first-hand how our shipment might help. He offers this report:

 
Arriving at Nairobi’s modest Wilson airport at the crack of dawn, about 20 of us were led into the plane that would take us to Kakuma. Initially it was a scenic flight, with dramatic terrain that features Mount Kenya. This slowly gave way to vast plains that seemed to get drier and sparser as we approached Kakuma. With the gravel airstrip in view, it was clear that the scarcity of water must be a big challenge for this town and refugee camp. We flew over a bone-dry riverbed as we descended into a bumpy landing.

Derrick Nyamori (right) with an LWF staff member. CLWR/D.Nyamori

Derrick Nyamori (right) with an LWF staff member. CLWR/D.Nyamori

I was graciously received by Lutheran World Federation staff and driven to their offices. They were very capable in and passionate about their work, if somewhat overwhelmed by the recent surge in refugee arrivals. I came to learn that the conflict in South Sudan was the main cause for this spike.

The camp tour was as emotional as it was interesting. While life in the camp is far from ideal, I left with the impression that among the most important things the camp does for the refugees is create hope. Typically, the refugees escape areas where their lives are at constant risk from political conflict, scarcity of resources and gender-based violence, to only mention a few. At the camp, they find a home. They find a place to learn and, perhaps most importantly, they find security. While life remains a daily struggle, the existence of such a place is a big reason why these refugees can still dream of a brighter future.

A child looks at water tanks in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Water must be trucked in daily to meet the needs of the people for drinking, washing and cooking. CLWR/D.Nyamori

A child looks at water tanks in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Water must be trucked in daily to meet the needs of the people for drinking, washing and cooking. CLWR/D.Nyamori

At the time I visited, the population of the camp was about 170,000. It is at full capacity, yet there are new arrivals every day. Resources are strained, and the refugees feel this most acutely. The water system is aging, leading to leakages and overflows. There is a constant need for non-food items (NFIs), such as those supported through CLWR’s We Care program.

Women and children wash and gather water at a communal tap. CLWR/D.Nyamori

Women and children wash and gather water at a communal tap. CLWR/D.Nyamori

Life in the camp can greatly be improved, but from every person I talked to in the camp, there’s an overwhelming gratitude for the existence and continuance of the camp, and for the help they receive through all the organizations involved. With the conflict in South Sudan still raging, the need is ever greater.

 
– Derrick Nyamori, CLWR Administration Coordinator

4 thoughts on “Visiting the Kakuma Refugee Camp

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