Above: The year 7 students receive their food rations for the day at their makeshift refugee camp.
The Year 7 students have walked a few steps in the shoes of refugees by experiencing what it is like to ‘check-in’ to a refugee camp, as part of the Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) ‘Welcoming the Stranger’ schools initiative.
In a recent presentation to the students of Room B, ALWS representative Julie Krause explained how the United Nations Kakuma Refugee Camp – home to around 175,000 refugees in northern Kenya, and managed by Lutheran World Federation – welcomes new-comers every day, providing for their basic needs with items such as soap, clothing, household utensils, food and shelter.
In order to understand what it might be like to be a refugee, the students were required to write a list of three things that they would take with them if they had to leave home in an emergency and imagine what it would be like to leave everything else behind.
They then experienced the registration process through creating their own processing station. They received rations of food, water, materials for shelter and learned of the communal use of a long-drop lavatory – shared with up to 10 other families! The students were challenged to design their (model) shelters using the materials provided and experienced a lesson in the local language, Dinka. They also discovered how children in the camps played soccer with balls they make themselves from whatever materials they can gather.
A further challenge for the students was to experience what it would be like to live on the rations presented to refugees – they ate nothing but a water cracker, porridge made with water and plain boiled rice for the day.
The experience stirred different feelings amongst the students. “I feel very sad for the people in the refugee camp”, said one student “I also feel very grateful for what I have and I thank God for everything we have.” Another student added that he was happy that the refugees were safe, but shocked at why they were there.
The experience has opened the students’ eyes to what happens in refugee camps and they felt inspired to take action, not just monetarily, but by changing the way they view refugees. In doing so they are following God’s word in Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.
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