Faces of Kakuma

Above: One of my favorite photos from today.

Please take a moment to look at each face. I think you will agree that these are not people of whom anyone should be afraid. Yet they are stuck in a refugee camp with no way out because of rampant misrepresentation and fear mongering. Any one of us would be blessed to have such people as a neighbor and friend.

Refugees are people in need of protection and place. They are not a threat to anyone. Pass it on.

Training day #2

Above: Today’s facilitator and translator for another day of theological training. The “Kakuma 5” shirt courtesy of our friends at Northwood Community Church (MN). Any guesses what Kakuma 5 means?
Above: Prof. Kalantzis presents Pastor Martin a certificate of having completed a trauma care training course on behalf of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (Wheaton, IL).

Refugee life

Above: Kakuma refugee camp
Above: A busy watering hole in the camp
Above: An Ethiopian coffee house in the camp ($0.50 per cup)

Training Day #1

Above: Prof Kalantzis teaching this morning
Above: Nicholas is a gifted translator without whom the training couldn’t happen. He is also the director of the KISOM.
Above: A Christian leader from the host community engaging with the training
Above: This group of Christian leaders is crossing all sorts of barriers as they learn together. The pastor on the right is from the host community (Turkana) and the pastor on the left is from Ethiopia.

Theological Training

Professor George Kalantzis started a 3 day theological training intensive of church leaders from the refugee and surrounding host communities this morning. He’s continuing from where he left off last October.

These remarkable women and men play an instrumental role in helping people cope and even thrive in a context of protracted displacement.

A supportive community and life-giving faith/worldview are essential to strengthening human resilience and keeping hope alive.

Water!

Two water stories lead this first post from this visit to Kakuma.

1. Water!

We’ve been working on a massive project for several years that aims to provide drinkable water to a camp of over 2000 Internally Displaced People (IDP). We reached a major milestone last week. We struck water!

The drill first found some water at around 40 meters. It looked promising, but our NGO partner in Kenya encouraged them to keep drilling. At 80 meters they found nothing more and recommended to stop drilling. Our partner encouraged them to keep drilling.

Then it happened. At 110 meters they hit a water source that appears to be very promising.

The next step is to test the water quality. If it checks out as expected, this is the well for which we’ve been praying together all these years!

2. Water!

There are currently 15 wells serving the refugees and locals. Only 2 are still working. And one of them is no longer producing much. One well is trying to serve 200,000 refugees plus the local people. If it fails, it will be a humanitarian disaster on top of a humanitarian disaster.

We’re only getting water in the NGO compound for 2 hours at night. Every measure is being taken to conserve water.

This is a semi desert and people won’t last long if water fails. The rains aren’t expected for another 4-6 weeks. We can feel the tension in the air.

Would you pray with us that God will provide for the women, children and men here?

How strange it is to strike water at a time of an impending water emergency.

Back to Kakuma

Photo: a group of refugee church leaders from Sudan outside of their church in Kakuma

It is time to return to visit our brothers and sisters and ministry partners and friends. Stay tuned for updates along the way.

Prayer Mountain

Photo: A Kakuma landmark visible from most of the camp. When the camp was first being built, many of the NGO staff were Christians and were known to often climb to the top of this hill and pray for the refugees. They called it “prayer mountain”.

It is time to say farewell to our friends in Kakuma. We are packing up our bags and getting ready for a final debrief with our NGO partner agency (NCCK) before we take the 90 minute UN flight back to Nairobi.

Our flights back to the US (via Europe) depart tomorrow night.

Kwaheri Kakuma.