Hope and Resilience in Kakuma
May 11, 2012 BY Chris Helfrich
Today we toured Kakuma Refugee Camp in the northern Kenya desert, home to nearly 95,000 refugees, about one-third of whom are from South Sudan. People there have walked days or weeks, or ridden buses, or flown in airplanes, to escape dangerous conditions in their home countries. They arrive exhausted, most with little or no belongings.
Yet these people warmly welcomed our delegation from the United Nations Foundation and the Nothing But Nets campaign, greeting our group with smiles and waves. They have persevered through unimaginable hardship to arrive at Kakuma, where they are relieved to find safety.
Officials with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) told us today that the camp, which was designed to accommodate 80,000 to 90,000 people, is filled beyond capacity. And the violence between Sudan and South Sudan is causing more and more people from the region to flee to Kakuma. An average of 80 or more refugees come to the camp each day.
As the rainy season approaches, malaria remains a serious threat to these families. Kakuma officials recorded nearly 17,000 cases of malaria in the camp last year; life-saving bed nets are critical to keep these refugees safe from deadly mosquito bites.
Kakuma health officials are working to efficiently distribute bed nets, including those sent by generous supporters like you, to new arrivals. These include the woman pictured here: Achol Deng of South Sudan.
A diverse group of Nothing But Nets supporters are here with us in Kenya to help spread the message that life-saving bed nets are urgently needed. We're traveling with Bryant Barr, former Davidson College basketball star and director of the BUZZKILL Foundation, which has raised more than $100,000 for Nothing But Nets; our partners at Variety, Inc., publisher Brian Gott and Editor in Chief Tim Gray; and our newest Champion, actress Serinda Swan. We're thrilled they're committed to lending their voices and networks to the fight against malaria.
Check back here for updates on our second day at Kakuma.
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