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.
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 186,000 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.
In mid 2016, the Kenyan government opened a new refugee settlement called Kalobeyei about 10 miles from Kakuma. With 38,000 refugees, Kalobeyei is officially full.
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 thank God for our close partnership with National Council of Churches, Kenya (NCCK) in Kakuma!
More information: The IAFR Kakuma Blog
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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 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.
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.
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!
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 camps and their surrounding host communities are among the most vulnerable populations to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 virus. As supplies of basic foods dwindled and prices skyrocketed, those living on the edge of survival face hunger and worse. Our refugee church partners quickly reached out to us asking if we could help provide food for those most in need.
IAFR has been partnering with United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC) since the spring of 2020 to this end. They identify those most in need of food assistance and work out all of the related logistics. IAFR and our generous financial partners provide funding so they can buy and distribute non perishable food.
It costs $30 to provide one person with one month's supply of non perishable food items (e.g. beans, rice, cornmeal, cooking oil, etc.).
What a beautiful way for the refugee church to care for those most in need - both in the camp and in the surrounding host community.
"When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat." - Jesus
You can help by donating to the Kakuma Location Fund today.
Photo: A single mother and her children receive a month's worth of emergency food assistance. Photo by United Refugee Churches. Used with permission.
Refugee camps are among the most vulnerable populations to an outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. A lack of soap available to refugees has been identified as one of the key vulnerabilities in Kakuma.
IAFR is partnering with United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC) to help them set up each of their 162 affiliated churches as soap distribution centers embedded throughout the camp and surrounding host community. We are also partnering together to provide emergency food assistance to vulnerable people.
You can help by donating to the Kakuma Location Fund today.
Photo: Refugee churches pick up soap and dispensers from URHC. Photo by United Refugee Churches. Used with permission.
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.
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!
Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans were displaced by post-election violence in 2007. Over 3,000 of these women, children and men are living in the extremely difficult conditions of Turkana West IDP Camp on the outskirts of the town of Kakuma town in remote northwestern Kenya.
They are in desperate need of durable shelters. We are provide them as project funding is available.
The IDP camp in Kakuma, Kenya, has no local water supply. They have to walk several miles under the burning sun to fetch water in plastic jerrycans. Not only is it hard work, it is also dangerous for the children who are often given the task.
We are working to provide a sustainable source of water for 3,000+ Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) living there.
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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