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.
It was a joy to participate in the first training session held in the brand new KISOM building yesterday.
Our refugee brothers and sisters launched KISOM back in 1997. In 2012 they began praying in earnest for a building of their own as they were last meeting in a condemned and abandoned primary school in the camp.
IAFR prayed with them. Once we had a draft of a proposed architectural design and budget, we brought it to our financial partners. They responded generously. We then contracted our NGO partner, National Council of Churches Kenya (NCCK) to do the actual building.
KISOM has already graduated well over 1000 students trained to be pastors, evangelists and missionaries. Many are church leaders in the refugee camp and surrounding host community. Others have since relocated to their homelands or a third country (refugee resettlement). Most are pastoring somewhere today.
Sadly, I fell suddenly ill shortly after taking this photos and making a Facebook Live video. I spent the next 24 hours resting and recovering. I’m thankful to say that I am well again and able to continue the visit here as planned.
No knew photos to post today as I became suddenly ill this morning. I’ll spare the details.
I spent the day resting and trying to keep fluids down.
I’m thankful to say that I’m feeling much better than I was 8 hours ago – but still feel weak and have avoided solids.
I’m hoping this will have passed by the time I awake tomorrow morning.
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.