Kakuma Refugee Camp ~ “The Spiritual Staying Power”
| Visit Report by Bro Innocent Baruani (Nairobi-Kibera Ecclesia, Kenya)
Kakuma Sunday School
The northern part of Kenya is home to two of the biggest refugee camps in the world. The Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps have a combined total population of over 600,000 refugees. These are mainly from Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Burundi, Uganda and Eritrea. Our preaching efforts, launched four years ago, have been blessed with the establishment of an ecclesia in the Kakuma Refugee Camp.
The most recent trip we made to Kakuma Camp came against the backdrop of an outbreak of inter-community violent clashes witnessed in the camp in November last year; this resulted in 13 people hacked to death and tens of thousands displaced from the camp; most of them sought refuge in school buildings and police stations. During that period, all humanitarian organizations were forced to suspend their activities because the camp had then become a no-go area. It took the Kenyan Police ten days to quell the violence and restore normalcy. Some of our refugee brethren lost their household items after their houses were broken into by some unscrupulous opportunists who took advantage of the chaos to carry out widespread looting. Despite that, we thank God for having watched over the brothers and sisters as they were all unscathed.
We arrived in Kakuma on Friday, 27 March at 6am and the preaching campaign kicked off in the afternoon with the first Bible talk in a series of three well-attended sessions conducted the following day. Bro Allan Ketoyo from Ndisi Ecclesia (South Nyanza area), who came along with me, was the guest speaker. He expounded on the parable of the “Fig Tree” and I spoke about the parable of the “Rich man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31) which elicited a lot of questions from those in attendance who held the view that, immediately after death, the soul of a righteous person goes to heaven and that of the wicked one to hell. We took great pains to refute their belief by quoting several Bible verses. We held the memorial service on Sunday and started our 28-hour journey back to Nairobi the following day.
Kakuma after the riots
Agape in Action at Kakuma
Just like in any other refugee camps the world over, life in Kakuma Refugee Camp is very difficult due to the fact that only 3% of the refugees are employed by humanitarian organizations; thus enabling them to have a regular income. The remaining majority, with no income, is totally dependent on humanitarian handout for daily survival.
In the light of such reality, the brothers and sisters of Kakuma ecclesia came together and initiated a tailoring project for income-generation in an effort to mitigate the effect of the harsh reality they are exposed to. Nevertheless, they didn’t have the necessary equipment to implement that worthwhile objective. Thus, the Agape in Action came to their rescue and provided the much needed funding which enabled the project to acquire the equipment and run smoothly. The funds consisted of a grant coupled with an interest-free loan repayable in small instalments for a period up to 24 months. The project is open to all and so provides, to Kakuma brethren, not only an income-generating activity but also a preaching platform for teaching the Truth to potential clients and contacts who come to the tailoring workshop to learn tailoring skills.
Spiritual Staying Power
Every time I return from a trip to the Kakuma Camp Ecclesia I have the impression that I came back with more than what I had given out because of the inspiration I draw from the spiritual staying power of the brothers and sisters living in the camp. Their faith remains steadfast in the face of daily adversities with which they have to put up. Please remember in your prayers the 19 brothers and sisters and 44 Sunday-school children making up the little lampstand shining out in the midst of this expanse of settlement. There are also scores of contacts learning the foundational lessons of the Bible and whose confession to a good understanding of the Truth and eventual baptisms are highly anticipated should the Lord delay his long awaited return.
It’s our prayer that the spiritual seed sown during the just concluded preaching campaign will germinate and our heavenly Father will help it grow and bring forth fruits to His glory. “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Kibera Market, Kenya
Bro Innocent Baruani (Nairobi-Kibera Ecclesia, Kenya)