Kenya hosts first-ever TEDx event at refugee camp

One of the world’s largest refugee camps in Kenya has hosted a rare web-streaming event showcasing stories of resilience and creativity.

The TEDxKakumaCamp, held on Saturday at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, brought together current and former refugees, as well as activists and aid workers, to share their experiences in an effort to change perceptions and break stereotypes.

The one-day gathering marked the first time that TED ― the influential conference network that hosts online talks on a range of scientific, cultural and academic topics around the world ― held an event at a refugee camp.

Among the speakers at the event was South Sudanese track-and-field athlete Yiech Pur Biel, who represented the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro and Somali American supermodel Halima Aden, who grew up at the Kakuma camp.

After returning to Kakuma for the first time since moving to the United States at the age of six, Aden said she has had many flashbacks.

“A lot of girls, not just Muslims, follow my journey who may come from a similar background,” she told Al Jazeera’s The Stream programme.

Over the past year and a half, the 20-year-old model, who wears a hijab, has appeared in nine magazine covers, including Vogue.

The hijab is a headscarf worn by Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion.

“To think two years ago, I could even pick up a magazine and flip the inside pages and see someone dressed like me. So, it’s been quite the journey.”

A former refugee from South Sudan, Mary Nyiriak Maker, who now teaches at the Kakuma camp, was also on the line-up of speakers

The 22-year-old said she returned in the hope of inspiring young people.

“I look at the population in the camp, especially, the population of the young – most of them are hopeless – and seeing me as their teacher who is almost their peer, will actually encourage them to move on, to push on, to see that life is not about the camp.”

“Life is something more ahead and that’s what I want them to believe.”

The Kakuma camp was set up in 1992, initially to take in mostly Sudanese refugees. It is now hosting about 185,000 people who have fled war or persecution from 19 African countries.

A May 2018 report by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the UNHCR estimates Kakuma’s informal economy is worth $56-million.

“Everybody here says that they believe an event like this is extremely important, not just because it counteracts negative stereotypes about refugees but also it will inspire so many refugees around the world,” said Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Kakuma.

Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, and co-host of TEDxKakumaCamp, said the event was the “most logistically challenging, but also one of the most moving” staged by the TED organisation.

“Most Europeans, Australians and Americans think that all the refugees are coming their way, but frankly most of them are in countries like Kenya and yet they’re invisible,” she told Al Jazeera.

“We are hoping with this event, we could really illuminate the camp but also the extraordinary refugees, the talents and ideas they have by putting them on as powerful a stage as the TED stage,” Fleming added. —Al Jazeera

Agency
External source
Advertisting

Workers fight job-creation ‘mess’

Former Ekurhuleni workers argued in court that a programme promising to equip them with skills simply acted as a labour broker for the municipality

Court dissolves local municipality

Landmark judgment paves the way for South Africans to use legal system to hold councils responsible

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.