The onset of the politically instigated violence in my country meant that circumstances had taken a turn for the worst. The future seemed bleaker for me and scores of others who had now been left in this world with minimal hope to hang onto. I acknowledged that life had to be redefined. I had to carry the tag of a refugee, a position that came with immense challenges especially being in a foreign country called Kenya.
Xenophobia was the first significant challenge that I encountered in my new status, in society. Kenya is a nation with predominantly distinct people, being a foreigner does not make circumstances better. After traveling for a significant period, I arrived at the refugee camp called……………….
The patches of my country men gave me some sense of belonging. However, the natives had deeply rooted xenophobic feelings and were so spiteful of the foreigners. This position could not do any better in curbing the nostalgic feelings that were taking a toll on me. Life was steadily becoming unbearable due to the feelings pertaining to negativity.
A chronic shortage of food characterizes life in the camps, the over 50,000 refugees depended on the irregular hand outs from the UNHCR, Red Cross and other well wishers. The food rations are, however, so little and are not balanced. I was once struck by a bout of malnutrition and longing for a good meal. The situation is even worse for children, women and the sick because they can not fight for food with the strong refugees.
The limited or absence of water supply does not make life interesting in the camp. Most camps are hardship areas and lie close to the desert and other arid areas, thus water scarcity becomes a key challenge. The water supplied by the Red Cross and UNHCR is hardly enough to cook, leave alone bathing or washing clothes.
Life then becomes complicated as the sun scorches consequently making life uncomfortable. This is because Kenya lies in the tropical region. This is coupled with food shortage consequently resulting in frequent cases of human dehydration and starvation.
Inadequacy of healthcare services is another grave challenge that I faced in the camp. Medical staff as illustrated by the nurse and doctor is rarely available at the camp. We had to depend on mobile clinics that did rounds in the camp at irregular levels. The drugs presented were questionable since they did little to alleviate the pain I was experiencing.
These conditions led to unwarranted deaths that could easily be prevented had there been proper medical care. It is noteworthy that malaria is an ailment that was common in the camps. I remember my dear friend Said undergoing medical tribulations due to poor attention by the therapeutic personnel.
The frequent tribal clashes in the neighborhood could not make life any better in the refugee camp. At some point, I even thought their major economic activity was cattle rustling due to the frequency in which such activities occurred. This made numbers in the camp increase since the locals became internally displaced and moved to the camp. That served to further strain the relationship between the natives and foreigners, in addition, to aggravating the food and water crises.
Insecurity was so rife in the camp. It is noteworthy that the empty shelters within the camp harbored criminals who then invaded the camp. This is with the aim of terrorizing the refugees. They even went further to sexually abuse women and young girls; furthermore, they torched the camps for reasons best understood by them. They were so inhumane that they eve stole the scarce food rations that we had been allotted by persons of good will. I deduced such an occurrence as the most detestable human act that culminates in strife.
Refugee life means that acquisition of information and knowledge has to be forfeited. Information is either unavailable or inaccessible. As a refugee, I remained unaware of the happenings in the world. I became so ignorant that I did not even know my privileges, constitutional rights and limitations as a refugee. Educational facilities are particularly scarce and nearly all of them are intricate to access.
Being in a foreign country, I experienced a sociocultural shock. People dressed differently, worshipped in dissimilar ways; furthermore, such persons went about their life in a manner that was foreign to me. As a refugee, I had no option but to conform and even do things that in my society were considered socially improper. I had no option but do it in order to fit into the society.
Life as a refugee in Africa entails a lot of compromises especially on issues that an individual considers wrong. Failure to compromise means that an individual is unlikely to survive in the host nation. Life in the refugee camp is so challenging with so little to smile about as most things are done against your will and are a betrayal of your beliefs.