World Refugee Day: Learning, Healing and Shining together in Kenya
Together with other countries worldwide, Kenya celebrates World Refugee Day on June 20th to appreciate the lives of all displaced people scattered across the world.
Kenya has nearly half a million refugees, mainly from the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa region. Around 40 per cent of the refugees live in Kakuma in Turkana County, one of the poorest counties in northern Kenya, and Finn Church Aid (FCA) offers humanitarian services to the displaced persons in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Settlement.
This year’s celebration highlights the theme “Together we heal, learn and shine”. In the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic particularly disrupted the education and health sector. Learning was almost impossible because of the protocols put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The school children relied on lessons broadcasted on radio, and this was helpful to the learners,” says Emmanuel Mr Wamalwa, Head teacher of Future Primary School in Kalobeyei Settlement.
During the protracted crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital to ensure children still have access to education. FCA provides safe and inclusive quality pre-primary and primary education to 21,000 learners, 19,950 of them refugees. The reopening of schools has required new solutions to ensure that learners continue studying and observing the social distance protocol.
Before Covid-19, the classes at Future Primary School accommodated 130 learners per classroom. With funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland, the school received eight temporary tents to decongest classes and achieve the required distance between learners. One tent carries 36 desks.
“The tents are a relief to us as learners can keep social distance and maintain hygiene,” says Mr Wamalwa.
In celebration of World Refugee Day, the school will arrange a sports event for the entire school where children can run, play ball games and recite poems. Playing together helps to ease the children’s minds from the demanding life of the refugee camp, and it builds unity among those displaced.
“Most of our learners are refugees, and we want to celebrate the day with them. We advise them to live one day at a time and be mindful about their mental wellbeing,” emphasises Mr Wamalwa.
Text: Elizabeth Oriedi