In northern Kenya, in the semi-arid desert, life is full of challenges. Nature provides its own trials with the average daytime temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, dust storms, and poisonous snakes, spiders and scorpions. Yet it is here that over 180,000 people are trying to survive. On top of the harsh environment in this remote setting, their daily lives are made more difficult by lack of sufficient infrastructure and poor access to essential services and the significant impact this has. Where is this place?
This is Kakuma Refugee Camp. You may recognize it as the home of “the lost boys of Sudan.” These were the 20,000 six to eighteen-year-old boys who fled southern Sudan to escape death or induction into the northern army. Of these, a little more than half survived to arrive at the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Today, the camp hosts people from Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Uganda and more. Having been forcibly displaced or fleeing from their home countries because of war or persecution, they have sought safety and a life away from civil war, hatred and death. They have come in desperation and fear … and in the hope of finding a safe haven and eventually a new life.
They find themselves in an overpopulated camp set in the middle of nowhere with little chance to leave. Many have been here for decades. Sadly, in these circumstances, many are born here and will grow old here. Because the camp is considered UN property, Kenya does not give them citizenship. Without identification papers, they are not citizens of their home country, so this generation is literally without a country. They wait and do what they can to keep despair from robbing them of their hopes and dreams.
Yet, the human spirit is resilient, and there is an innate desire to survive. So, there are also those who are not sitting idly as they wait. Some have become entrepreneurs, and you can find small cafes, hair salons, internet providers, carpenters and more within the camp. In a small way, the camp is emerging into its own and becoming a city within its boundaries.
In this odd mix of hopelessness and resilience, there is the deep need for hope and a sense of belonging. People have come from traumatic circumstances, and there is a need for healing and reconciliation, for education and equipping. There is a need for the hope of Jesus, and this presents a wonderful opportunity for TWR to share the gospel with tens of thousands in one location.
TWR Kenya operates seven FM stations through SIFA FM to reach close to 3.5 million people in Kenya. They air content that equips listeners with knowledge and skills to improve their livelihoods and to cope with their daily challenges. And TWR is poised well to reach the many nationalities living within the camp as well as the neighbouring Turkana people.
We already have existing programs in languages that can be understood by 90% of the people in the camp: Swahili, English, Swahili Ya Congo, Turkana, Nuer, Somali and Juba Arabic. We have discipleship programs and informative programs on nutrition, agriculture, economic empowerment, education, sports, culture, peace and reconciliation. We have developmental programs focusing on issues like water, sanitation, hygiene, many that provide critical education on how to prevent diseases like diarrhea, malaria and cholera which are serious threats within the camp. We have programming for special groups, such as women, children and youth. However, this programming is not readily available to those living in the Kakuma Refugee Camp … yet.
I was recently in Kenya, and when I once again heard about this situation, my heart beat faster. I believe that now is the time for this to change. It is possible to bring Christ-centered and developmental programming to the people living in Kakuma Refugee Camp. The solution? An FM station that can reach the entire camp.
Working with TWR Kenya’s SIFA FM network, we are setting up a studio outside the camp and constructing a transmitting site in an elevated area nearby to enable wide signal coverage. This is a unique opportunity to partner with TWR Kenya and reach thousands of people through one location. God has opened the door for an outreach to a group of people that is largely forgotten. We are praying that this station will bring many into the kingdom, and we ask you to join us in making this happen.
We have more exciting news! God has already provided a donor who has agreed to match every dollar raised in Canada with another dollar up to $100,000. This means every dollar you give is doubled. The $200,000 will cover the cost of the tower, transmitter, installation, studio and a portion of the operational costs for the first year. Our goal is to have this station on the air by the end of 2019.
We have an amazing opportunity to bring true peace and healing and to provide valuable educational programming that will change lives spiritually and practically. Your gift will make a difference in countless lives now and for all eternity. This is no small thing.
How will you be part of bringing hope to 180,000 people in the Kakuma Refugee Camp?
Together for the cause of Christ,