Friday January 15, 2016
Rescued from Nightmare
I am Congolese and come from a family of four children. I am the first born.
My family fled our country the Democratic Republic of Congo due to insecurities related to ethnic problems. We sought our refuge in Kenya in 2003.
My parents did casual works in Nairobi, that is “Jua Kali”, washing toilets, clothes, selling foodstuffs. That was not enough to keep up a family as big as a size six and to pay for our fees and school requirements.
Luckily, good Samaritans helped us out. I got into primary school. I worked very hard and enthusiastically. Since I am a sharp learner, I learnt English quite fast and the other subjects became doable. I got my certificate of primary education with A, 81.6%
I joined secondary school and I was helped, again, by good Samaritans. Motivation and zeal filled me up. I continued working my fingers to the bone to get good grades. I was not only good in academics but also in extra-curricular activities. I was an all round student and I intend to always be an all round person. I got my certificate of secondary education with A- (minus), 80%.
After High School, I stayed at home and life proved to be harsh. I would see my parents struggling to make ends meet. That broke my heart. I wished I could do something to help them. Nevertheless I started tutoring some of my neighbours’ kids as I waited to join university. I did not get much out of it but it helped in keeping me busy. It did not last. I stopped for various reasons and began tutoring my siblings.
As I also had passion for music and reading. I wrote beautiful songs, plays, short stories, novels, books, etc. I believe, with professional touch, some of my songs will be hits and my writings will impact lives. All these works are still not produced and unpublished due to challenges I have been facing in refugee life.
We relocated to Kakuma refugee camp in 2013, that was after the Government issued a directive that all urban refugees should settle in the refugee camps. Kakuma is a semi- arid desert. Life there in the camp was horrible. This is mainly because my dream to pursue higher education was shattered. Everything in the camp seemed hopeless. Refugees were looked down and were treated like second class people. This is one of the reasons as to why I was not able to pursue higher education because there were so many hindrances in the administration. In the camp, we struggled to survive. There was no hope although we tried to encourage ourselves and hold on to faith and believe that one day everything was going to be just fine. All I recall of Kakuma can only be described by one word, nightmare: food, water, education, justice, shelter, healthcare, security, employment, climate, environment, etc. To be a refugee is one of the worst things a person can experience in life.
I got a job as a teacher at a primary school in the camp. Thanks to that job, I got an opportunity to meet Debra Kidd and her WWEP team. Meeting them was a pleasant experience. We got to talk and know each other. They asked me about the challenges we faced in Kakuma which I was able to tell them. I also got to tell them about my dream to pursue higher education.
When they left, we all missed them at school. My students and my fellow colleagues missed them and I think I missed them more because they were kind to us.
I kept in touch with them through Debra Kidd. I wrote to Debra Kidd about my desire to go to university and explained to her my situation. She replied to me and told me that she had a colleague from Big i Foundation, Ian Gilbert, who was touched and was willing to help me pursue higher education. I was very excited about the news and felt hopeful again, so was my family.
I researched on universities I could attend. After much research, I found out that I could study in Uganda at a reasonable price. Big I Foundation, along with Debra Kidd and support from Northern Rocks, agreed with my decision. They also helped me with the transport I needed to go to Uganda.
Now I am a student at a university in Uganda where I am pursuing a Degree in Social Work and Social Administration. I live in the hope of studying hard to get a Degree, then a Masters and later a PHD. My dream is to get a job immediately after my Degree, record my songs and publish some of my writings in order to eradicate poverty in my family and also to give back to the community.
(Photo of Nancy in her classroom taken by Jane Hewitt, Kakuma, 2015)