The Star: ‘I am Kakuma’ airs hopes and dreams of refugees

Joelle Hangi, 26, was born in Eastern Congo but has been living as a refugee in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana, since 2014.

“What I can say about the experience is that first, it was not easy. The transition from a French-speaking country to an English-speaking one was hard,” she said.

“Everything is new and you don’t know how to start life, but despite all the trauma I was going through, I just wanted to continue with my life.”

According to the Eastern Congo Council of Affairs, the wars in Eastern Congo began in 1994, and the civilians caught in the crossfires have suffered the most.

“The death toll in the country has topped 5.4 million, mostly in the east, while nearly three million people remain displaced and more than a million women and girls have been victims of rape,” reads the council website.

Civilians are targeted for supporting rebel groups or for their ethnic identity.

“They have been robbed, displaced from their homes and villages, and pressed into service as slaves,” read the website.

“Women have borne the brunt of sexual violence, wielded as a weapon of war. Driven from their homes, many have died from hunger and disease.”

For security reasons, Joelle declined to discuss her personal experience back home.

Despite her will to move on, inadequate support, unmet needs and lack of study opportunities made the process of transitioning harder.

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