Tag Archives: Kenya

Kakuma

Clive Nettleton, our director of Book Aid International, reflects on an evaluation and partnership building visit to Kakuma in 2008.

“Kakuma refugee camp isn’t one of those places conjured from TV images. No rows of tents with a feeling of desperation and humanitarian agencies running feeding programmes. No television cameras recording an unfolding drama of movement, starvation and despair. Kakuma looks more like a huge urban slum, a Soweto or Kibera deposited in a remote rural area. It houses 70,000 or more refugees:  Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians, Congolese, Eritreans, Ugandans and a smattering of others washed up from decades of conflicts in the region. In Swahili Kakuma means ‘nowhere’ and it is at best a transit for somewhere else and at worst a place in which you are stuck for long, soul-destroying years.

Visiting the camp a couple of years ago, I was struck how people living there survived in the way that poor people in rural Africa do survive.

Despite everything life goes on and people make a life, but it is temporary, and sustained by dreams of moving somewhere better or returning home. There is little beyond survival. But the library started by a hugely energetic group of Ethiopian refugees most of whom had moved on was an oasis of peace and learning. In that oasis, as one Somali man told me “we are all brothers” and he thanked his erstwhile enemies of decades ago, the Ethiopians for their efforts. “We get food and shelter here,” he said, “but the library provides food for our brains.” And, I reflected, it is a huge contribution that Book Aid International makes in providing the books that fill this library. It won’t change the world, but it certainly changes the lives of many thousands of people living ‘nowhere’.”

 

 

Our Appeal on BBC Radio 4

Well, today’s the day. Our appeal has gone out on BBC Radio 4’s Appeal Show for all to hear and we’re getting a fantastic response from it already. Lots of lovely comments that Alan Bennett is the perfect fit for Book Aid International (we completely agree), and a fantastic response to our cause.

If you weren’t able to catch our appeal this morning (it was on a little bit early – 7.55am), then there are plenty of opportunities to listen again.

The appeal will go out again tonight at 21.26 (Sunday 19 June) and then again on Thursday 23 June at 15.27.

You can also listen to it on the BBC Radio 4 website.

 

Refugees supported by book donations from Book Aid International, Kenya

Volunteer librarians Charles and Steve reading to children at the Nairobi slum in Kenya

 

Books are for long term good [2 days until World Book Day]

The Nguruman Maarifa Community Resource Centre can be found about 160km southwest of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Julius, a worker at the Centre: “The Centre, we can say, is sort of a light to the community – and even to the whole district.”