A new home

Above: A mother and son stand outside the door of their new shelter provided by IAFR and our financial partners

We visited Canaan village outside of Kakuma this afternoon. Until last year it was known as Turkana West IDP Camp. It is home to an estimated 4,500 forcibly displaced Kenyans (i.e. IDP).

IAFR has been working with our financial partners for several years – building sturdy shelters for these people. I believe we have built 80 shelters like this so far.

Above: Brothers standing outside of what was their shelter/home until this summer when their family received the IAFR shelter (in the background)

The boys (above) told us how the powerful rains didn’t come through the roof of their new shelter earlier this week. Until now, such storms soaked them and turned the floor into mud.

Their older sister showed up shortly after I took this photo and told us how she thanks God for their new home.

IAFR has provided 5 new shelters here in 2019. We hope to build more before the end of the year. Each shelter requires $950 to build. If you’d like to help now, click here.

In Kalobeyei…

Above: refugee pastors whose churches received metal sheets for roofing from IAFR raised their hands

We spent this morning in Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement. It’s about 10 miles from Kakuma refugee camp and hosts around 40,000 refugees from neighboring countries.

We met with pastors from the 45 churches there that are affiliated with our local partner United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC).

They took time to thank IAFR and our financial partners for providing metal sheets to roof 10 of their churches. It was clear this assistance not only met an pressing need but they also saw it as a sign of God’s faithfulness for them in the midst of their daily struggles.

Above: IAFR’s Europe Regional Leader informs pastors about the harsh realities that refugees in Europe face

The pastors were also interested in hearing firsthand about refugee life in Europe and the US.

Perhaps the two most shocking things they reacted to were 1) the role of pastor does not carry prestige or receive automatic respect in Westerners nations and 2) church services in the US generally last 1 hour and then people go their own way (services in the camp last an average of 3-4 hours every week).

Above: Wendy Meyering (Arrive Ministries) takes a question re: refugee life in the US

Listening to refugees

We met with a group of diverse refugees today asking them to share with us about life in Kakuma refugee camp. The group was quite diverse in terms of age, gender, marital status, and ethnicity. It included 7 people with disabilities. Orphans, widows, single mothers, the chronically ill, etc.

We are humbled by their willingness to share their experience and stories with us.

My heart and mind are too full to process more here tonight. I will try to do so in future posts.

A light lunch was served during our gathering.

Try, try, try again…

Earlier this year we bought we had finally struck water with a borehole. We were hoping to have the water pumped and piped across 6 miles of semi desert to the IDP camp outside of Kakuma town. But the borehole quickly collapsed and could not be redeemed.

So we tried again (above). This time the drill hit a rock shelf at about 30m that could not be penetrated. Another failure.

So we are trying again (below)…

We learned of an existing borehole that the Kenyan government drilled but later capped (above) as they did not have the funding to complete the project. It is said to be on a major aquifer. The government is open to our piping the water to the IDP camp.

If all goes well, the IDP could have water before our next visit to Kakuma planned for March 2020.

Please pray with us to that end.

Paul Sydnor (IAFR Europe Regional Leader) and I visited 7 or the 10 refugee churches that received roofing materials for their churches in Kalobeyei refugee settlement.

Time and again we heard how surprised the churches were to learn that God had heard their prayers and provided their desperately needed roofing.

The pastors told how this encourages their faith. They also asked that we continue to pray with them for the 30+ churches in Kalobeyei that are still without a roof over their head.

One of the refugee churches used to meet under this tree to escape the harsh sun and wind. They could not meet at all when it rained. They are deeply grateful for the roofing materials provided by IAFR that have now given them a protected space for worship and other church activities.

Refugee women’s conference

Pastor Jenna Daniels (Awaken Community Church, St. Paul, MN) and Wendy Meyering (Arrive Ministries, MN) partnered with United Refugee and Host Churches, to lead half of the sessions of a 2-day refugee women’s conference at KISOM this week. It was a time of rich and diverse fellowship.

Above: Pastor Jenna Daniels speaking earlier today during the conference

Fetching water

We came across a group of children fetching water – rolling these full Gerry cans along the path. I asked this kid if he could pick one up (they are really heavy). Click went the shutter. Smiles all around as we shared a moment revealing the daily challenges of life for the host community surrounding the refugee camp. No one here has it easy.

Refugee women’s conference

Faith plays an instrumental role in the survival and recovery of forcibly displaced people.

IAFR is partnering this week in a two day refugee women’s conference. Refugee women from DR Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi came from diverse parts of the sprawling refugee camp.

We gathered at the KISOM building we helped our refugee partners build earlier this year just outside the camp.

It was a rich time of fellowship and learning together.

Brickmaking

We came across some Sudanese boys making mud bricks for a new chicken coup in their compound in Kakuma refugee camp this afternoon. It’s hard physical work in the 96 F sun.

They say the bricks will need to dry in the sun for 2 days before they can be used.

These guys are clearly hard-working and resourceful as they try to improve their quality of life as refugees.

My heart is heavy as we meet so many people here who need a country to open their doors and invite them in to our refugee life behind them. As it is, the world is busy closing doors rather than opening them.