Kakuma is a town in the northwestern Turkana County, Kenya, near the border of Sudan. It is the site of a refugee camp established in 1991. It is managed by the Kenyan government and the Kenyan Department of Refugee Affairs in conjunction with the UNHCR. As of June 2015, Kakuma hosts around 185,000 people, mostly migrants from the civil war in South Sudan. Many people in Kakuma Camps are long-term refugees, living in hopelessness and desperation. The situation is particularly bad for young people.
Dust storms frequently pass through the Kakuma area. Malnutrition, communicable disease outbreaks, and malaria are all ongoing problems, while donor support has faltered due to conflicts in other parts of the world. Many of the refugees hope to leave Kakuma for resettlement in another country such as the USA and Canada. For example, the “Lost Boys of Sudan” were a special group who were resettled from the camp to the U.S. in recent years.
The Ed Colina Foundation Support
Over the years, The Ed Colina Foundation has supported members of the Kakuma host community, the locals, who are not part of the refugee camp. In particular we have worked with the Diocese of Lodwar, the Catholic Diocese that oversees Kakuma area and in particular, Good Shephard Parish. Good Shephard Parish, located in Kakuma, has created approximately 25 “out-station” or satellite mission parishes to serve those who reside in the outskirts and bush areas of Kakuma and Lodwar. These stations often have a catechist and, in some cases, an educational effort is underway. We support construction of classes/churches at two locations, close to the town of Kakuma, namely – Kang’meriyei (Site 1) and Keepong’oria (Site 2). Site 1 was found to have two classroom areas with structures made from sticks and branches. Recently, a third structure, which was used as a church, was destroyed by a storm. Many students did not come to school on the day of our visit because there was no food. No fees are charged and food is basically relief food of maize, beans and rice contributed by the diocese/parish. The food is stored nearby the classes. Site 2 was similar in that the children were gathered under a tree for instructions, age groups and classes combined for one teachers. There were no classroom seats, blackboards, books or materials of any kind at either school. The request was made for classroom structure assistance, materials and in-service for the untrained teachers.
The Ed Colina Foundation is committed to assisting with educational endeavors in these mission areas. We have worked with the pastors of Good Shephard who staff and oversee the outstations. The current pastor is Fr. Charles Kapengi. He is a local man and is a very hard worker. We met with him and toured both previous sites and future sites.