In a Kenyan camp for displaced people, Congolese refugees who were doctors and lawyers at home are putting their skills to good use
We meet four among the thousands of Congolese people living in Kakuma refugee camp, a vast expanse of huts and tents in the arid plains of north-western Kenya. Before conflict interrupted life as they knew it, these refugees were doctors, lawyers and peacebuilders. Despite living in extremely challenging conditions, they are using their expertise to help others.
Why am I here? Because I like to read newspapers. There is a lot of suspicion of educated people in Congo but I’ve known the importance of education since I was a child. It’s the only thing that can change your life.
I’ve been in Kakuma since 2012 and came here from the Katanga province, in Congo. I was separated from my parents in 2006 and I still don’t know where they are, but I believe that they are alive. Back in Congo I studied international relations so that I could defend the interests of my country and represent it internationally. But then the conflict began.
The worst thing that can happen in the camp? That you lose hope. You always have to remember your goals. Even though I can’t apply everything I’ve learned here, I try to do what I can. Along with some friends, we created a library which everyone can use. We came up with the Solidarity Initiative for Refugees, a programme that helps people get their bachelor’s degree. They always say that in the camp you cannot get a degree, but we changed that.”