At Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where our Lutheran family in Australia and New Zealand supports new arrivals and long-term residents through Australian Lutheran World Service, there are many types of blended and extended families. Some have come together by choice after fleeing or being displaced from their homelands, others by necessity. Each family has been touched by trauma and tragedy. While living in a crowded camp far from home is hard, there are also plenty of examples of kindness, love, generosity and inspirational resilience.

Cousins band together

Cousins Wali*, 17, Matu*, 15, and Malook*, 13, live together at Kakuma, having left their home country of South Sudan because of the war there.

Wali explains, ‘We have no other family. They are all gone. It is just us. We live in this compound with other Dinka people. We can feel lonely, just the three of us, so we often share our hut with others – sometimes there are nine of us sleeping here.

‘Each morning we walk 10 minutes to the school. I dream of being a lawyer and my cousins would like to be a doctor and a teacher. We all like to play soccer. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays we all go to the choir at church and do other activities. And then we go to church on Sundays.

‘We are thankful for the LWF (Lutheran World Federation) Child Protection Officer who helps us if we need something.’

*Their names have been changed for child protection reasons.

Always room for one more

Lucy has been at Kakuma since 1992, having also come there from South Sudan because of the war. She is now the mother of 13 children in a blended family.

‘I have eight children of my own, but they are mostly grown up’, she explains. ‘Noah, my elder son, is living with me plus a couple of the younger ones. I have now fostered another five children because their mother passed away. I have my own little compound with a kitchen and a sleeping area. The children have all blended well and are enjoying school.’

Missing home

One family has come to Kakuma from the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC] due to a decades-long land feud with one of their neighbours. The family’s grandfather was targetted.

Two children, 11 and 12, are being fostered by this family as their own father was a friend. He fled their home in DRC after the children’s mother was raped and died.

Then the foster family became a target of the feud and fighting, so they took the children with their own family and fled to Uganda. They then travelled for a week before reaching Kakuma.

The foster father is a choirmaster at the local church and would like to be a businessman. They have a small blackboard where they practise their English and have made a little vegetable patch near their hut.

They are very grateful for the set-up items they received at Kakuma, including mattresses, clothing for the children, school supplies, pots and pans, but they are all missing their home.

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