The IAFR Blog

Field notes, perspectives, stories, news & announcements

Life in a Refugee Camp

Click the image to learn about safety in the refugee camp
What is life like in a refugee camp?

Christianity Today recently published a couple of IAFR interviews with people living in Kakuma refugee camp to their blog, "The Better Samaritan". The interviewees include Amer, a young South Sudanese woman, and Richard, a middle aged father from Sudan. Both have been in Kakuma for more than a decade.

The camp population is about 200,000 people - mostly women and children. While the majority are from South Sudan and Somalia, the camp also hosts refugees from Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, and DR Congo.

Allow me to whet your appetite with the hope that you will be tempted to read at least one of these insightful interviews.


When it comes to safety in the camp, there is often tension between its various ethnic communities. Kakuma is less than 100 miles from the border of South Sudan where people from the Dinka and Nuer communities are engaged in bitter fighting. As Amer notes in her interview,

"Both communities exist in the camp - both the Nuer and the Dinka that fled the war - and just the existence of them both creates a tension."

There are other security issues too. Richard tells of how a severe shortage of food and firewood has led to a recent increase in violence.

Investing in Peacemaking

Our partnership with an association of 163 churches in the camp and host community is accomplishing many things, among which is peacemaking and reconciliation work. The association of churches brings together people from nearly every ethnic group in Kakuma in ways that break down barriers and promote opportunities for collaboration.

One such powerful investment is their Annual Refugee Youth Camp that brings together young women and men from diverse ethnicities. As they worship, pray, and learn together, they discover that their shared identity in Christ transcends other the identities that they may carry. IAFR has long helped sponsor the camp - and participated in it as well.

Learn more about Refugee Youth Camp.

Click the image to learn about education in the refugee camp

When it comes to education, everything is in short supply.

There are not enough classrooms, teachers, or text books. It is not uncommon to find one teacher in an overcrowded classroom packed with 200 children. Many of the teachers are refugees themselves. Few have benefited from a degree in education.

On top of that, many children are expected to do time consuming chores that keep them out of school - things like fetching water, getting food rations, watching over young siblings, and even cooking for their families. These duties often fall to girls and prevent them from completing school. It's a disadvantage that will follow them throughout their difficult lives.

Helping with Scholarships

IAFR launched a scholarship program to help refugee girls complete high school at quality boarding schools in Kenya. We're presently sponsoring 3 girls from the refugee camp and 2 girls from the nearby camp for Internally Displaced People (Kenyans who were permanently uprooted during post election violence in 2007/2008).

It costs a total of $9,100 to put one girl through high school. Learn more.

Visit our Kakuma Blog to learn more about our work in Kakuma refugee camp!

- Tom Albinson

Open Post

The journey doesn't end with resettlement

A family arrives in the US after 20 years in a refugee camp - now what?

A small but significant number of people are resettled from refugee camps to places like the US, Canada, and Australia every year. Have you ever wondered what happens to them after they arrive?

The challenges they faced in the refugee camp are exchanged for new challenges as they work to rebuild their lives and integrate into in a new society.

IAFR serves in both refugee camps and in countries of resettlement.

As we serve in both refugee camps and in countries of resettlement, we are eager to share about what it takes for people to flourish in their new place.

Join us on May 7th for an online conversation.

What does it take for people who have been forcibly displaced to flourish in a new place?

How can long-time community members and newcomers learn to build a community that allows everyone to thrive?

We hope that you will join us for a conversation about the ongoing process of integration for those who have passed through the experience of being asylum seekers and refugees.

Date: May 7, 2021

Time: 11:00 AM (Central Time)

Venue: Zoom (online)


*Participation is free, but registration is required.

Among other things, we will share our latest insights related to the IAFR Continuum of Response (below), a tool we use to develop contextualized ministry strategies.

There will be time for interaction and conversation, so please come with your questions and ideas. Let's learn together!

IAFR offers training and consulting.

Our vision and mission is bigger than anything we can hope to accomplish on our own. That's why we are eager to train and equip others for life-giving ministry among refugees and asylum seekers.

Learn more about IAFR Training

We hope you will also check out our free downloadable ministry resources in our online Toolbox. And while you're on our website, why not get a quick overview of global refugee realities as well?

- Tom Albinson with Rachel Uthmann

Open Post

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