Kenya: Life in a camp is always the same
20 December 2010

A group of counsellors during a JRS training session in Kakuma refugee camp. (Angela Hellmuth/JRS)
"In Ethiopia we had a good life, went to good schools, had our family house."
Kakuma, 20 December 2010 – I was forced to leave Ethiopia eight years ago because of political reasons. My father was a business man and was accused by the government of supporting a rebel group. 

Since 2002 we don’t know my father’s whereabouts. He was sent to prison three times and the last time he didn’t come back. We heard from people that the other men who were in jail with him were killed.  

In Ethiopia we had a good life, went to good schools, had our family house. We had all the things a father can provide. He was a businessman and sold clothes and shoes. 

My mother was a housewife. When I was in high school I wanted to become a journalist and study mass communication. My dreams were crushed when I had to flee.  

We left our home after my father didn’t return from prison, and lived in Moyale, Ethiopia. But there were people looking for us so we came to Nairobi. My mom was working in a hotel until the 2007 election, when the post-election violence erupted. The hotel where my mom was working was burned down and our things were taken. We had to live in Jamhuri in Nairobi with all of the other refugees after the violence in 2007, then we were relocated to Kakuma.  

Gaining new skills through JRS

In Kakuma JRS counselling, day care and mental health staff visited us. I was not able to go back to school so I trained as a counsellor with JRS in 2009. 

Before I joined JRS I wasn’t confident to deal with my problems. Now I am so interested in using the skills, I practice them in my community. I am now on the lead team who gives training on basic counselling skills.  

Some of the people in my community have benefitted from the programmes. Now most of the time I am giving training to other counsellors, but I still have some clients to look after. 

The training takes two months for each of the counsellors; it is broken up between trainers. We have a manual we follow for training of specialised subjects. 

But apart from basic counselling skills, we don’t have any other skills. As trainers, we would like to have a wider training to enable us to increase our knowledge. We need more books for counselling too so we can enhance the programme.  

After Kakuma

In Ethiopia, many of the people in my family have been arrested and killed [for association with my father] so going back there is not easy. 

Life here is always the same. Staying here for a long time, some of your dreams are shattered; there are some things I want to do which I cannot do because I am here. But here I am protected. Here I am comfortable with the security.