Kenya: Students’ voices from Kakuma
21 March 2011

Alex, Ethiopian Certificate student (left) and David, Sudanese Certificate student (second left) after the official project launch in Kakuma. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
"I am sure that after the course I will be someone else who can do something good, something great.”
Kakuma, 21 March 2011 - Almost 60 refugees now have access to higher education in Kakuma refugee camp, after JRS officially launched a distance-education project with Jesuit universities in the US. While 35 students are enrolled for a three-year Diploma in Liberal Studies course, 21 participate in a three-month certificate course in Psychosocial Case Management. Here are some of their reactions on the day of the launch:

Hayat, Somali Diploma student

“I came to Kakuma in 1998. I did my primary and secondary education here and I thought after finishing form four, that’s the end of my education because I am a refugee. But then I got the chance to be admitted to university through JC-HEM [Jesuit Commons – Higher Education at the Margins]. I am now doing the Diploma course and it will brighten my future. I also appreciate the fact that after finishing this course I will be able to get a degree in any university of the world.”

“I work in the LWF [Lutheran World Federation] peace building office as counterpart manager. My senior officer allowed me to take up this course. Now I can go for classes in the afternoon or in the morning, depending on my duties at work. They also allowed me to use the office computer to pursue my studies.”

Alex, Ethiopian Certificate student

“I have been in Kakuma for almost 20 years and I feel stressed when I remember how long I have been here. It is always painful to remember, we lost so many things but the good thing is that we saved our life. When I first came to Kakuma, I was a university student. I had completed my second year but in the camp, there was no possibility to resume my education. To remain without an opportunity to continue my education was one of the things that traumatised me. Now, after 20 years the opportunity has come.” 

“I work in the LWF [Lutheran World Federation] peace building and conflict resolution unit. The course helps me a lot; I have already gained so much. I am a social worker and as such we handle cases for clients. I transfer the knowledge I gain from here to the real life situation. All I have learned in three weeks helped me to give quality service to our clients and it made my work much easier.“

Asmahani, Somali Certificate student

“I am doing the Psychosocial Case Management course. Before, we did not have any opportunity to advance our studies. We were hoping for something like this but as refugees we cannot just go and do it. But now JRS is giving us this opportunity and I am sure that after the course I will be someone else who can do something good, something great.” 

“I am working with FilmAid International. I have talked to my supervisor and he doesn’t have any problem with me pursuing the course because he knows that the work I am doing is related to it. He knows that after the course I will be able to do my work very well. I work with different people every day and the course will help me learn how to handle them in the right way.”

Jaweyriyo, Somali Diploma student

“I arrived in Kakuma in 2008. I work with IRC [International Rescue Committee] as a lab assistant. I am so happy to do this Diploma course because by the time I leave Kakuma, I can get access to any college or university. It is hard for me to work and study but I will try to resign from my job because education is the best way to develop myself. If I leave Kakuma, I have to leave my work behind but education – I will have it wherever I go.”

David, Sudanese Certificate student

“I came here in 2001; 10 years in the camp is a long time. What forced me to run away from Southern Sudan is not solved. I have personal problems, I lost my parents. There are tribal conflicts, that’s why I ran away, and I don’t think I can go back soon. I completed my primary and secondary education here in Kakuma but I had no opportunity to go for college or university. I have been working as a community mobiliser with UNHCR and FilmAid and as an interpreter. JRS trained me in mental health in 2008, then I applied in clinics and now I work with the IRC [International Rescue Committee] as a mental health assistant, diagnosing patients. That is why I am doing the course. It is helpful and I gain knowledge.”

Suad, Somali Diploma student 

“This course is very nice. I have been eager to find a university. I am doing the Diploma course and I want to finish it fully and later continue with a degree programme.”