Reflections from time spent in Kakuma

November 4, 2016

From Oct. 14-20 I was in a remote part of Kenya called Kakuma on a mission trip. I was hosted by Jesuit Relief Services, which is under the United Nations. Kakuma is in the northern half of Kenya with a landscape completely dominated by sand and heat.

Kakuma is the name of an area that is reserved by the government of Kenya to be the temporary home for more than 200,000 refugees. A refugee is a person that had to flee from their home country because of persecution, war or fear of death. Refugees in this area are from multiple nationalities and religions. Almost all refugees are Muslim or a branch of Christianity. They come from the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda and Rwanda and some from different countries. In 2008, Kakuma hosted 21 percent of the worlds total refugee population and these numbers have only increased.

Kakuma is a region full of nothing, which is why Kenya agreed to let the refugees stay there temporarily. It’s like having an extra room in your house with no furniture and you allow your neighbor stay in it because he doesn’t have a home anymore and you have extra space. Farming is impossible to do with infertile sand all around. Water there comes from a well. There are no power lines, and indoor plumbing is relatively new to the camp. The main problem with these refugees is issues in their home countries are not being resolved. Wars keep continuing and corrupt governments continue to stand tall. These people are misplaced, dirt poor and the saddest part is they are regular people like you and I. They had jobs, education and ambition, but this was taken from them when the fear of death drove them out of their homes.

Kakuma is a complete waste of human life and potential because everyone there is stuck and can’t contribute anything to a society. This is because none of them are part of a society. Foreign issues such as this need to be discussed in America to inspire change in people. Problems in these areas will not be resolved until we begin to care about other people outside of this country.

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