KENYA: Salesian missionaries offer vocational skills training to ensure refugees a better life at Kakuma Refugee Camp
(MissionNewswire) Kakuma was established in 1992 near Kenya’s border with South Sudan and was a place of refuge for unaccompanied minors fleeing warring factions in what was then southern Sudan. Today, the Kakuma refugee camp has more than 185,000 refugees, well over the 120,000-person capacity for which it was built. Most of the refugees are from East and Central African countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kakuma is operated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in collaboration with Salesian missionaries in the country as well as several other humanitarian organizations. The camp offers refugees safety, security and life-saving services such as housing, healthcare, clean water and sanitation.
Salesian missionaries at Kakuma refugee camp operate the Holy Cross Parish and the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center where young men and women are receiving critical employment and life skills. There are many courses available and those studying welding, carpentry and bricklaying often utilize their new skills helping to build infrastructure within the camp.
As noted in a recent Anadolu Agency article, refugees are able to take classes at the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center to ensure they will have the skills to rebuild their countries if they are able to go back home.
“We are arming ourselves with skills, which we will use to rebuild our countries when we go back home,” said Soieso Fumba, a Congolese refugee in the Anadolu Agency article.
The article noted that Fumba watched as militants killed her family. She fled and never looked back and has been afraid to return home because the area is still too dangerous. During her time at Kakuma, she is making the most of the opportunities at the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center.
“When I came here, I was a student. I used to speak French — not even a single word of English. Now I will leave this place a designer, a professional one, if I may say. I design clothes, I make my own patterns, and I am sure that once I leave this place for my home country, I will bring change,” added Fumba in the article.
The article cites another story of 32-year old Kabat Hasafa, who ran away from Ethiopia because he felt his life was in danger.
“I am learning at Don Bosco Technical School. I study carpentry and joinery. I am living at the Kakuma 3 Refugee Camp. I fled from my country because of some political issues. You know in our country there is ethnic federalism. Ethnic federalism is not supported by the majority. I can say that, so I oppose that. Somehow, I have been harmed because of my ideology so that is why I came,” said Hasafa in the article.
He notes that the skills he has acquired at the Don Bosco center will help him provide for his family. In the article, he went on to say, “It is helping a lot because now I am a student. But after I finish this course, I can use what I learn here so I can do my business and survive. So I will start a family and then life will continue as long as the UNHCR is alive.”
Gashane Mulambo, a 23-year-old Congolese plumber who lost his parents and sister to tribal war, said things have changed for refugees in Kenya.
Salesian missionaries operate four technical training facilities in the camp. The main center offers all the technical trades as well as a literacy and math program. Another technical school offers agriculture education where youth learn advanced farming skills. Still another is a technology-focused center that combines community technology access with computer training. The newest facility is offering classes for adults in carpentry, welding, sewing and English.
Over the past few years, Salesian technical programs in Kakuma have successfully trained thousands of youth in viable trades to earn a living and care for their families.
“The refugees usually come here with their skills and experience while many others get their skills from here, so they can easily work in the country of asylum and can contribute to the local economy,” said Danya Kattan, a livelihood officer at UNHCR Kenya responsible for the livelihood of refugees at the Kakuma refugee camp, who was also quoted in the Anadolu Agency article.
He added, “The component of capacity building when it comes to vocational training will help them to be economically inclusive and also get them to work — not only in the country of asylum, but also when they head back home to their country of origin as they participate in the reconstruction of their country.”
Salesian missionaries have had an established presence in the Kakuma refugee camp since 1993 as a UNHCR implementing partner in vocational training in Kakuma. UNHCR notes that the camp was originally established in 1992 to host thousands of Sudanese refugees fleeing from civil war.
Anadolu Agency – Kenya’s Kakuma camp gives refugees hope