Behind bars

We are thankful to our friends and partners at National Council of Churches Kenya (NCCK) for their logistical support and assistance in making our visit a success. Over the years, they have become like family, for which I am grateful.

Refugee Youth Camp in Kakuma

Above: About 170 youth from over 10 nationalities participated in this year’s camp. The 2 Mzungu (white guys) joined the camp from Northwood Church in Maple Grove, MN. Northwood is a long-time ministry partner of IAFR and has sent their youth pastor and another member to the past 3 youth camps in Kakuma. They also generously underwrite much of the costs of the camp.

Above: Tom Albinson (IAFR President) with a few of the refugee youth at the 4 day camp.

Refugee Leadership Training (Kalobeyei)

Above: Nearly 60 pastors in Kalobeyei refugee settlement came together for 2 mornings of leadership training. As the settlement opened only 10 months ago, most of the pastors recently suffered the trauma of forced displacement themselves. Now they seek to establish faith communities in the settlement that will play a vital role in helping people survive the harsh life here. IAFR is privileged to partner with United Refugee and Host Churches in supporting these pastors with training, Bibles and, when possible, material support (e.g. for church buildings, etc.).

Above: Refugee pastors were eager to learn more about leadership during the 2 day seminar in Kalobeyei.

A walk in Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement

Kalobeyi Refugee Settlement was opened about 10 months ago. It is located less than 10 miles from Kakuma refugee camp. Together, they provide refuge for about 170,000 men, women and children. Although Kalobeyei hosts many nationalities from surrounding nations, most of the people here have fled escalating violence and war in from South Sudan.

Above: row upon row of shelters consisting of wooden frames, metal roofing, tarpauline “walls” and dirt floors have been constructed to host the rapidly growing population of Kalobeyei since June 2016. The tarpauline walls will ultimately be replaced with bricks made of sand mixed with cement.

Above: Refugees attempt to make kalobeyei their temporary home. As the average time of displacement is over 17 years, many of the children will remember this as their home.

Hospitality

Over the past few days in Kakuma, we have experienced the tremendous hospitality of the forcibly displaced people in this place. It continues to amaze me that people who are rarely welcomed by others, are the first to show hospitality and openness to visitors like us. Even though refugees are often met with the message to “turn around or go away,” their resilient spirits and compassionate hearts are the first to open their houses and their communities to others. As refugees they are living in a land that is not their own, but still they open their doors and their hearts to us, and it has been a great blessing to experience their warm kindness and generous spirits.