From Horror to Hopelessness to Hope
Human Rights Watch describes the plight of Somalis fleeing from war in their homeland to refugee camps in Kenya as going on a trip "from Horror to Hopelessness".
In 2009 there were over a quarter of a million refugees in three camps near Dadaab, Kenya. These three camps were designed to only cater for a third of that number yet they now effectively house the largest refugee settlement in the world. More refugees pour in everyday fleeing war only to find one set of problems traded for another that is equally arduous.
A refugee in one of the camps wrote a poem which ends with the words:
"Here where we are, absolute obscurity reigns. God, take our hand, this life is unbearable".
Refugees like this poet are lucky to get into Kenya unscathed after facing many problems at the border.
Yet, when arriving at the refugee camp they face a shortage of shelter, water, food, sanitation and healthcare.
These displaced individuals, living adrift in a sea of uncertainty, need a voice.
Stephen is a radio programme producer for TWR-Kenya and he is giving these refugees a voice. Since 2008 Stephen has been producing daily interactive radio shows for a TWR-Kenya FM Station. His programmes are aired in a town which is in the same district as the refugee camps. The station is not live, yet Stephen has developed a creative way of keeping the refugee community connected as a community - as refugees phone him on his mobile, he holds up the receiver to the microphone and records their messages for playback during the show.
This innovation has caused a massive surge in support for his show. Even people from South Africa have called Stephen in order to send messages to friends and family in the refugee camps. This is a special time when the darkness can lift, if only for a little bit, and they can move from obscurity to recognition. It is also a time which affords TWR the opportunity to reach out with Jesus to these hundreds of thousands who are living without hope - through the programme, Stephen is slowly building a bridge to the refugees, over which the gospel can eventually be delivered.
It is hoped that TWR-Kenya will soon be able to set up a live transmission mechanism for the area that will make the station even more effective. This, as well as potential partnerships with other aid and relief organizations, will go a long way towards bringing hope into the lives of these people.
The same poet mentioned previously says in his poem that Somalia is exchanging "ashes for gold". Perhaps through Stephen's programme they can instead exchange ashes for a crown of beauty (Is. 61:3) as they meet Jesus and embrace him as their solution.
3. Name changed for security purposes
Posted: 12 May 2010
A Somali Woman
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