Sylvain Ruhamya

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“I always say that being a refugee is a condition and not a status. I have been in Kakuma Refugee Camp for 8 years. I lived a normal life with all my dreams.

From my DR Congo, I hold a degree in Law. When I arrived in Kenya it was not possible to use my legal skills due to employment policies towards refugees. I was also not fluent enough in English, but I learnt and used my French to connect quickly. I was teaching French to Kenyans and this helped me to interact and network. I got to do translation, then to work with FilmAid International (3 years). I got to know the refugee community deeply and I really found out that "the intersection of my passion and the deepest hunger or need of my community defines my vocation." Kakuma is the most multinational camp (with almost 15 nationalities). Most of the refugees come from various backgrounds and culture. Language barrier is one of the major obstacles for converting refugees’ capabilities into functioning. I came up with English language class project and I taught from 2010 to 2014. I am proud that as a refugee, I contributed to the wellbeing of my fellow refugees: over 2000 students learnt English, some joined vocational training, some tertiary education, some are teaching, and some are able to use skills and knowledge they came with back home. Mostly, they became self-reliant.”

"Refugee life was a turning point of my life"

Briefly, my refugee life was a turning point of my life. When I noticed my teaching ability, I joined Regis university online course organized in the camp through JC HEM (Jesuit Commons High Education at the Margins) and I completed my diploma in liberal studies (Education concentration). Right now, I am doing my masters at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Glocal Community Development Studies.

From all this, I always say "no calamity can kill hope" and "what does not destroy me strengthens me." As a refugee, I will always remember this quote: "They have taken my home but not my future"”.


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