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Success In Kenya

Story by Elvis Gakuba – Director, Refugees & High Risk Communities Program

I grew up as a Rwandan refugee in Burundi.

In 1959 my father’s neighbour told his family that if he did not leave that day, my family would be killed. They couldn’t take anything with them, otherwise the government forces would know they were trying to escape. My mother and father escaped that night. The next day the forces arrived. They killed all our livestock, and burned our house to the ground.

My parents crossed to safety in Burundi, and were placed in a camp. A few years later I was born. My mother and father had to start over with nothing and to rebuild their life. We had no country, no passport, no home. We were citizens of nowhere.

My Grandmother would tell me stories about our farm, and even though I’d never been to Rwanda, I always thought of it as my home. So in 1993, at age thirteen, I fought alongside the RPF forces so my family could go home.

After living as a refugee for thirteen years, we got our country back.

I know firsthand what it is like to be without a home or a country. I know what it is like to miss my home. I know what it is like to one-day play in my backyard with my friends, in safety, and the next day live in a tent.

When I see our work in the Kenyan Kakuma refugee camp I see my mother and father. I see myself and my brother. I know how much they want to go home.

The Sanku Refugee & At-Risk Communities (RAC) program is what I work for – so that those displaced people can live in dignity and respect, while they wait to go home.

I am thrilled to be leading this program where we are already reaching 70,000 children in the Kenyan Kakuma Refugee Camp – school-feeding program, partnered with the World Food Program. Since 2015, these 70,000 children have been accessing and eating the critical fortified foods daily to improve their health and reduce illnesses. We aim to expand on this successful refugee school feeding program to give the remaining 100,000 plus people, access to vital fortified foods within this Kenyan refugee camp.

Our RAC program will also be expanding throughout Kenya to give the over 1 million people living in at-risk communities, like Nairobi’s Kibera urban slum, the access they deserve to fortified foods.

Our full RAC program plan is to expand and reach 10 million refugees, in 116 camps across 18 African countries, and a further 5 million people living in at-risk communities throughout the world.