August 07, 2017

"With the help of the education I am getting from my school, I will be an ambassador of change"

Okwach Joe is a 12-year-old Southern Sudanese refugee

Faith Ocharo

Okwach Joe

12-year-old from South Sudan who lives in Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya

As part of a series about life inside Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, we talk to Okwach Joe - whose family left South Sudan because of conflict.

Dadaab is a complex of refugee camps in eastern Kenya which hosts almost 250,000 people. Like any city, it has schools, hospitals and transport systems. Most of the refugees living there are from nearby Somalia - but there are also people from other countries including Ethiopia, South Sudan and Rwanda.

In a special series of reports from Dadaab this week, we look at life for children living in the camp - which is run by the United Nations refugees agency UNHCR - and talk to a head teacher and young people aged from seven to 16.

My name is Okwach Joe. I am in class six. When I grow up I want to be a doctor because I like the things they do when they treat people. 

I am from South Sudan. I came to Kenya in 2007 because my life was not good there because  of the war that we experienced.

My mother died and our father could not take care of us, so my brother decided we come to Kenya to have a brighter future.

I like the education system in Kenya since the teachers teach us well and we learn new things every day. 

I was not happy when the Kenyan government was thinking of taking us back to our country because life in Southern Sudan is not safe.

There is no water for us there and we have no land or home back there so it was going to be difficult for us.

In May we experienced flooding and a large number of families were staying in schools like my school. They lost some of their belongings - hence it was going to be a tough time for them if the government insisted they move back to their countries. 

Currently my brother and I sleep in the kitchen due to the floods so it’s really hard for us and moving can be a major blow to my education.

Life in the refugee camp is much better here than what I experienced in my country.

Growing as a young girl it was peaceful. We used to play and go to the river, school and even church in peace.

Then one day the communities just started fighting and my mother died and we had to move to Kenya - so for me Kenya is home and is peaceful.

I like the calmness of people here, especially my friends. I love walking and helping out my brother with chores at home.

This is because there’s peace in my Kenya and I hope that peace can slowly land in my country Southern Sudan some day.

I believe that change is underway and with the help of the education I am getting from my school I will be an ambassador of change one day.

Read other Voices articles by Dadaab refugees

  • Act
  • Related Stories