(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries continue to provide services to refugees at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Kakuma is operated by UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, in collaboration with Salesian missionaries in the country as well as several other humanitarian organizations. The camp offers refugees safety, security and life-saving services such as housing, healthcare, clean water and sanitation.
Salesian missionaries at Kakuma operate the Holy Cross Parish and the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center where 1,044 young men and women are being trained in critical employment and life skills. There are many courses available at the training center and those studying welding, carpentry and bricklaying often utilize their new skills helping to build infrastructure within the camp.
“Don Bosco Vocational Training Center is the only formal technical training center in the Kakuma refugee camp,” says Father Luke Mulayinkal, who oversees the Salesian work at Kakuma. “There are so many who are being prepared for a livelihood and for nation building in their home countries or in the countries in which they will be settled. At the end of their year studies, the students receive a Kenya Government Certificate which holds much value for the refugees.”
Today, the Kakuma refugee camp has more than 180,000 refugees, well over the 120,000 person capacity for which it was built, with more refugees arriving every day. More than 44 percent of the refugees at the camp are from South Sudan and arrived after fleeing the country to escape conflict and violence. According to UNHCR, for the third year in a row, Kakuma continues to receive record numbers of refugees from South Sudan. By late August 2014 there were more than 42,000 new arrivals in Kakuma. Without a lasting ceasefire and peace and reconciliation in South Sudan, UNHCR predicts the steady influx into Kenya is likely to continue into 2015.
Kakuma is running out of space. By the end of August 2014, the camp was unable to accommodate new arrivals and UNHCR sought to secure new land for its expanded operations. With the influx of refugees into the camp and a need for technical education, Salesian missionaries at Kakuma are struggling to meet the demands of students seeking training.
Recently, A plot of land was provided for the Salesian missionaries to develop an additional vocational school to accommodate the growing numbers. While the land has been secured, it still has to be fenced off, new buildings constructed and machines and equipment purchased for the classrooms. Once the school is completed, it will offer classes for adults in carpentry, welding, sewing and the English language. Salesian missionaries are currently seeking funding to build the new vocational center and equip its workshops and classrooms.
“Since the influx of refugees, the Salesians have many needs here,” adds Fr. Mulayinkal. “We need to expand our services to meet the growing demand for shelter, nutrition, education, social support and infrastructure to run our programs. Right now we do what we can for as many as we can but the demand continues to grow.”
Headquartered in New Rochelle, NY, Salesian Missions—the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco—has launched a donation appeal to aid this project as well as ongoing humanitarian assistance for those displaced. As the Salesians in Kenya continue to provide safety and shelter for displaced families, they are reaching out for support so they may continue to help those in need.
To give to relief efforts helping those in need throughout Africa, go to SalesianMissions.org and select “African Crisis Emergency Fund” on the donate page.