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My Personal Story on Education

Life is an adventure through which I learned how to fit into different social situations.

Photo of Emerimana Daniel Christian

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My name is Emerimana Daniel Christian an African young man, Burundian by Nationality I was born in the North Province of Burundi and I am currently living in Kakuma Refugee Camp/Kenya. I come from a lower middle class family and also a polygamous one. As a child I was expecting to be treated well by my family; instead, I have been mistreated. Even though the unhappy situation in which I grew in up; I have been receiving a hand from different people, people from different countries, tribes and also from different religions. Life was not good at all, I struggled with life in each and every ways from education to my social life. I started my basic education in the year 1995 at Bumbiri primary school where I completed my primary studies in the year 2001. Then I joined secondary in 2001-2005; I was at Buganda secondary school. I remember when I was in grade 7 at Buganda, I was to drop out from school because of school fees but I was lucky enough to have my teacher who paid for my school fees. In 2006-2009, I joined Maranatha secondary school. 

This is me when I was in grade 7. Dropping out of school was the hardest decision for me to make. Lucky enough I received a hand from my teacher who knew me as a brilliant boy and she did not want me to leave the right track of my educational journey.

When I reached Kakuma Refugee Camp/Kenya in the year 2009, I tried so many times to get back to school but due to the fact that I completed my studies back in my home country and lost my academic documents during my struggle of saving my life; it was very difficult for me to get back on the track of my educational journey. No one could believe in my claims that I have completed my secondary studies without any document proving that I have been to school. In addition to that, language barrier was also another obstacle to my will of continuing with my education. Despite all difficulties; I learned to never give up hoping that one day the light of the day will follow. I developed self-esteem which enabled me to train myself on how to become good at English and well enough, it helped me to do better during the 2011 JC-HEM’s admission process and completed my Diploma and graduated in the year 2014 with the highest academic record (3.826 out 4 GPA).

I am very grateful that the donations (JESUIT FAMILY) permitted me to pursue my dreams and goals that I have had so many years ago. JC:HEM empowered me to move from being a baker to an Assistant Supervisor at JRS center One, from there to being an Interpreter for UNHCR Resettlement Unit and from UNHCR to JC:HEM as an Alumni Facilitator. It is also the same Jc:Hem that facilitated me to be one of the OpenIdeo community champions. Believe me with JC:HEM, I realized that life change is real because it helped me to move from Zero to a Hero. I have a will of being forever grateful to all friends, relatives, family and to everyone around me and I believe that if I do so and be faithful in doingthat, I shall live a determined life.Finally, I would agree with Thomas Edison when pointed out that:“Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (Retrieved from: 


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Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi. Thank you for sharing your educational journey/story here! I have read some of your other posts/comments advocating for higher education opportunities for refugees across the Challenge.
What are routes to higher education for refugees in Kakuma currently?
JC:HEM - Jesuit Commons - Higher Education at The Margins, organized by the Jesuit Refugee Service, is the route you shared, the program you studied in. Is this program free? How does it work if there is limited internet access in the camp? Does the Jesuit Refugee Service have other programs available in Kakuma?

What are the other possibilities? Are there other online higher education undergraduate programs that youth in Kakuma are accessing?
Are youth in Kakuma participating in other online advanced coursework that may not lead to a degree?
Is there a library/computer lab/center open for youth to use for such a purpose?

I read that there are Kenyan universities that will accept refugees but the problem is cost. Hassan Ahmed wrote a post about this. Fartun describes scholarship programs but points out that the need is so much more. Are there ways folk save and support each other around education? Are loans available?

Looking forward to learning more!

Photo of Emerimana Daniel Christian

Hi Bettina,
The main routes to higher education for refugees in kakuma currently are JC:HEM E-learning Program, DAFI scholarship (it gives chances to a very limited number from 10-15 student per year in the camp of 180.000 refugees and every year more than 400 refugees graduates from the kakuma secondary school), WUSCA (world university services of Canada and this program gives change to only 35 students to go and further their studies in Canada). Yeah, the program is free. Actually, it is the initiative of Jesuit Universities such as Regis University, Georgetown University, Loyola University, Saint Luis University and other many Jesuits charities and families that through JC:HEM program they offer a Diploma program to refugees. Where there is a will there is always a way. So since the JC:HEM has a will of reaching out to Refugees with a higher education program; they try they best to make sure the studies are delivered to the students. Kakuma is a remote area and it is true that there is a limited internet access. Yes, JRS has other program such as mental health, counselling and massage therapy. And what you need to keep in mind is that JC:HEM works in Partnership with Jesuit Refugee Services. So JC:HEM is running the program through its partnership with Jesuit Refugee Service. What you need to know is that the host country/kenya at some point it is not pleased with refugees having access to higher education so possibilities for young refugee to learn are very limited but the possible ones would be to bring in an online that can enable refugees to move an extra-mile into their higher education. Apart from JC:HEM with a Diploma in Liberal studies, there is no any other online higher education undergraduate programs that youth in kakuma are accessing. Most of them are not participating in other online advanced coursework that may not lead to a degree because they don’t have access to them though there are some free online courses with certificates that I know such as coursera. The computer lab that we have in kakuma is the one of JC:HEM and not everyone is allowed because it is specifically to serve those in the program. Briefly, there is no open computer lab for youth and the library which is there is not well established with up to dates resources. Moreover, I would like to say that there is no ways folk save and support each other. Loans are not accessible.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Who is responsible for running and managing the library that you mention? Do you think this is something that might be built up as a resource hub in Kakuma?

Photo of Emerimana Daniel Christian

Hello Bettina,
The Library is located in the Ethiopian Community and it is also managed by members of this community but everyone who need to read is allowed to go and read. But what I am sure of is the fact that there is rare up to dated books found in this library. Yes of course, that is something that might be built up as a resource hub in Kakuma. More than that, I think that there is more to be done as a means of equipping refugees with learning resources that can help them foster their intellectual development.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Do members of the Ethiopian community live in a particular neighborhood in the camp? Is it an organization within this community that runs the library? Do they organize any programs? An example might be a reading hour for children?
Would be great to learn more.

Thanks Daniel for all of your posts and contributions here!

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