Working together

Above: Refugee Pastors and church leaders from Kalobeyei refugee settlement and Kakuma refugee camp are working together to strengthen churches and improve the lives of refugees. The pastors and their churches are all part of an association of churches called United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC) with whom IAFR is partnering on several levels.

Kalobeyei refugee settlement

Above: Kalobeyei refugee settlement near Kakuma, Kenya. About 40,000 people live in the settlement that offers a more permanent solution to refugees (including stone shelters). But conditions are still harsh and the people still lack place – the ability to put down roots and build a life in a place that they can say they are from..

Refugee church building project

Above: IAFR is now raising funding to provide metal sheeting like this for refugee churches in Kalobeyei refugee settlement. About 100 sheets are needed to complete 1 church. You can give today at www.IAFR.org/donate (select the “Refugee Church Buildings” fund option under projects). 1 sheet = $9.50.
Above: Until they receive the metal sheets, they will continue to meet under trees and shredded tarps like this church.

Time to fly

Above: a Vervet Monkey in Tsavo West National Park (Kenya).

Our first visit to Kakuma in 2019 has come to an end ant we are soon to begin the long journey back into the frozen world of Minnestoa.

Above: A hippo keeps an eye on us during our overnight safari debrief before heading home.

Refugee Church Buildings

Above: A refugee church shredded by winds in Kalobeyei refugee settlement just down the road from Kakuma refugee camp. IAFR is partnering with refugee churches here to help them get metal sheets with which to build more durable houses of worship. You can give to our “Refugee Church Building Fund” to help today!

IDP Camp

Above: A young mother with her children and her mother in the IDP camp in Kakuma. They are among the people who received shelters from IAFR in 2018.

Water!

Above: This is how people in the IDP Camp in Kakuma have gathered water for the past 11 years. They dig a deep hole in a dry riverbed and scoop water into buckets that then fill jerry cans. The IAFR IDP Water Project is on target to begin bringing a clean source of water to the IDP camp by the end of the year!

IDP Shelters

Above: A couple of mothers in the IDP Camp. The mother on the right is expecting another child. She expressed her gratitude for the shelter she was provided by funding from IAFR in 2018.
Above: An IAFR funded shelter in the Kakuma IDP Camp.

A visit

We ended our day with a late afternoon visit with friends in the camp. We sat on plastic chairs in the humble compound of a Somali mother and had a remarkable conversation.

A Somali man shared his impressions from his time in Switzerland earlier this month. He was among the 6 co-chairs at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Imagine going from Kakuma to Davos – from one of the world’s forgotten places to hanging out with some of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet. And while he got a lot of attention while there, in the end he had to journey back to the camp. Forgotten again?

A Congolese mother shared that she is enrolled in a special training on developing a fashion business and brand. She’s actually already got a business set up in the camp and is highly sought after.

Our Somali host has a generous heart. She doesn’t speak English, but the others translate for her. She lectured me about having not stopped by to say good-bye when I was last in the camp. She had a custom made bedspread and pillow case made for my mom. She presented it to me today.

The challenge of keeping hope alive punctuated much of the conversation, as did the theme of how the refugee identity is dehumanizing, stripping them down to one part of their life – that of having been forced to flee their home and country.

These friends would be wonderful neighbors. But they have no country willing to take them in. It is a crime against humanity to leave them in a camp with nowhere to go. We all lose.

Still I pray – Father, please lead them to a city where they can settle. Amen.