Kakuma Refugee Camp

Helping people survive and recover from forced displacement

Ministriesopportunitieschurch constructionkisom buildingtheological training

Our Mission

We imagine a day when Kakuma refugee camp will be filled with safe and supportive communities of life-giving faith that are transcending their circumstances and dedicated to keeping faith, hope, and love alive in that difficult place.

We are making a highly contextualized multifaceted ministry impact in Kakuma, Kenya, in partnership with United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC) - an association of over 160 churches from within Kakuma refugee camp and the surrounding host community.

We break the isolation of our brothers and sisters through regular visits to the camp. We work to connect the refugee churches in Kakuma with the church-at-large in ways that help meet their needs and accomplish their mission. The result is that we are all blessed, challenged and inspired as we partner together.

Ministry Context

Located in remote northwest of Kenya, Kakuma refugee camp was established in 1992 in response to wars and violence in the region. The camp population presently includes around 255,000 women, children and men - most of whom originated from Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, D.R. Congo, Eritrea, Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda. Kakuma is among the largest refugee camps in the world.

The current Kakuma refugee camp system includes Kakuma 1, 2, 3, and 4 plus Kalobeyei 1, 2, and 3. A Kenyan official told us that the government plans to build two more camps near Kakuma.

Turkana West IDP Camp is also located near Kakuma town and is home to over 3,000 people who were displaced by post election violence in Kenya back in 2007-2008. They live in extreme poverty, with no local supply of water and very little support from the government and international community.

The ministries of URHC (our refugee partner) include caring for the most vulnerable people in the region, church planting, youth ministries and a church leadership training school.

We also partner with Windle International Kenya (WIK) in providing high school scholarships to girls from the refugee and IDP camp in Kakuma.

More information: The IAFR Kakuma Blog

Visit the Kakuma Blog!

Click above for the latest updates and stories.

Pastor Gatera lived in in Kakuma refugee camp for nearly two decades. He currently serves as IAFR Refugee Church Consultant. In this short video, he shares his story and the important role local churches play in the lives of refugees.


Needs & Opportunities

  • Long-term Service Opportunities
  • Kakuma Ministry Leader
  • Kakuma Project Manager
  • Short-term Service Opportunities
  • Accompanying IAFR missionaries on Kakuma visits is possible
  • Pastors and church leaders wanted
  • Trauma care professionals wanted

Inquire about service opportunities below.

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Pastoral Care

Visiting with refugee pastors in Kakuma

Even if IAFR had no other ministry going on in Kakuma, we would still show up at least twice annually to break the isolation of our friends there with a listening ear and a caring heart.

We care especially for refugee pastors who carry an impossible load as they shepherd communities in which everyone has been traumatized and lives with uncertainty about what the future holds.

We listen. We pray together. We worship together. We share struggles and dreams with each other. And we call to mind the truth, that God sees, hears and cares for us. We trust that by simply showing up, we serve as a tangible expression of that reality.

You can help us show up by donating to the Kakuma Location Fund today!

Refugee Church Construction

A refugee church in Kalobeyei camp near Kakuma

Refugee churches play an essential role in helping people both survive and recover from forced displacement.

Refugee churches are far more than a gathering point on Sunday mornings. They are community centers where people gather for learning, singing, reconciliation, protection and healing on a daily basis. They promote refugee music and art, offer support for widows and orphans, develop leaders, and help people find meaning and hope in the midst of suffering.

But the climate and conditions are harsh in Kakuma. The churches need to gather in buildings for protection from the sun, winds and rain.

That's why IAFR includes our refugee church partners in Kakuma among the beneficiaries of our Refugee Church Construction project.

KISOM Building Project

Our refugee partner, United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC), established the Kakuma Interdenominational School of Mission (KISOM) back in 1997. KISOM has since graduated over one thousand men and women, most of whom are serving as pastors, evangelists and missionaries today. As it is the only school of its kind in the region and serves both the refugee and local host population.

Listen to Pastor Timothy (video) share about how KISOM is equipping refugee church leaders for ministry.

We completed phase 1 of the KISOM building project in early 2019 (photo). The next phase of the project will include building classrooms.

Theological Training

Theological training in Kakuma with Dr. Kalantzis

For many years, refugee pastors asked IAFR if we could provide opportunity for theological education to Kakuma.

In 2015, IAFR began partnering with Wheaton College to provide theological education for refugee pastors in Kakuma by enabling Dr. George Kalantzis, Professor of Theology and IAFR Senior Fellow of Theological Development, to visit Kakuma at least once annually.

Dr. Kalantzis is encouraging the refugee pastors to bring their African and refugee experience as they work together to develop their own theological training at their Kakuma Interdenominational School of Mission.

Partner with us in this strategic ministry by donating to the IAFR Senior Fellow Fund today!

Bibles for Refugees

Refugee with Bible at Youth Camp (Kakuma)

Kakuma refugee camp is host to nearly 200,000 women, children and men, many of whom are Christians.

Few churches in the camp have access to more than a handful of Bibles.

We are working to provide at least one Bible for every Christian household in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.

Refugee Youth Camp

worship during refugee youth camp in Kakuma

Refugee youth are among the least supported groups in refugee contexts. Our refugee partner, United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC), holds an annual Refugee Youth Camp in Kakuma that invests in their faith and encourages them to lead whole and healthy lives.

By bringing a diverse group of youth together, Youth Camp also plays an important role in peace building as the youth learn that they can live in peace with one another.

Refugee Youth Camp is held in April every year. Let's pray that this time of fellowship, learning and fun would truly encourage our refugee brothers and sisters.

High School Scholarships

3 recipients meet with Windle International to learn about their scholarships

Refugee youth are among the least supported groups in refugee contexts. The UN reports that only 23% of refugee adolescents go to school. This is not because they don't want to go to school. The primary barrier is cost (e.g. school fees, uniforms, books, transportation, etc.). The need is greatest among refugee girls. In Kenya, there are only 4 refugee girls enrolled in secondary school for every 10 refugee boys. Click here for more detail.

IAFR is partnering with Windle International to give forcibly displaced girls in Kakuma the opportunity to get a good secondary school education!

Strategic Worker Support

Nicholas Gagai in Kakuma

Nicholas Gagai is a Kenyan. He was forcibly displaced from his hometown by post election violence in 2007 and ended up in Kakuma.

He has served full-time with URHC since 2008, without a sending agency or salary. He has often made ends meet through the generosity of the refugees he serves. But recent budget cuts have greatly reduced food rations and services in Kakuma. Refugees are no longer able to help Nicholas as they have in the past.

In 2018, URHC leadership asked IAFR if we would assist them by supporting Nicholas so that he can continue in full-time ministry. As we have already established a long-term relationship of trust with both URHC and Nicholas and know the critical role he plays in the ministry of URHC, we are happy partner in this way.

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