In the midst of miles of dry soil and a blazing sun, in the northwest tip of Kenya (Africa) along the Terach River, lies the over-populated Kakuma Refugee Camp. Kakuma is a Swahili word which means “nowhere.” This camp was established in 1992 following the arrival of the Lost Boys of Sudan–which were approximately 20,000 boys who had been displaced or orphaned during the Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005). With the influx of new arrivals, which began in 2014, Kakuma surpassed its capacity by over 60,000 people and is considered to be one of the largest refugee camps in the world with a population in excess of 155,000. This has led to serious congestion that affects every aspect of social life: employment, education, food, sanitation and health.
In the Middle East, over 11 million Syrians have been displaced due to the on-going conflict in Syria. Turkey hosts the world’s largest community of Syrian refugees. Their reception of the refugees was demonstrated on the assumption that the conflict would have a swift conclusion. But the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, and unrest continues to this day. Make-shift settlement camps formed to meet the needs of the swelling refugee population and scattered across Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Greece–as well as other nations that would accept them.
The conditions of these settlement camps in the Middle East–and others like Kakuma are grave. Support has waned over recent years and the camps’ resources and infrastructure are strained, to say the least. The refugees have little opportunities for employment or education, access to healthcare is meager, malnutrition is rampant throughout the camps, and over-crowding has accelerated the spread of infectious diseases.
International Aid was called upon to help, and so we are meeting the challenge by equipping partners who serve the refugees with urgently needed medical equipment, supplies and health resources.
Initially we began work with Crossroads Church of the Nazarene, a partner who has been present in East Africa for years. They work with the Kakuma Mission Hospital that serves the refugee camp. We provided them an anesthesia machine and pressure sterilizer.
Recently we shipped two large crates of diagnostic, medical equipment to our partner, Medical Teams International (MTI). The equipment consisted of: vital sign monitors, fetal dopplers (a hand-held ultrasound used to detect a baby’s heartbeat during prenatal care), EKG machines and sterilizers. MTI works in the Middle East, providing care for the Syrian refugees in the Lebanon settlement camps.
Every life matters! And we work to provide health resources to people in need wherever they are!