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First Ever TEDx Event at Refugee Camp Held in Kenya

In a bid to shatter stereotypes and myths associated with refugees, TED – the hugely popular and influential network that hosts online talks on a variety of global issues – braved the scorching heat to hold a discussion in the heart of Kakuma Refugee camp in North West Kenya.

TEDX’s session at Kakuma marked the first time the organization has ever held an event inside a refugee camp.  Refugees turned poets, filmmakers, models and teachers inspired a global audience on Saturday 9th June.

In a rare web-streaming event showcasing across the globe, the influential conference covered a range  of issues from scientific, cultural and academics topics around the world  with the theme “thrive” showcasing how refugees can help change not only their lives but communities they live in.

According to the co-organizer Dana Hughes, who was part of the UNHCR organizing team, the event planning begun earlier this year.

“I’m almost emotional when I see the success of this event, it was a bumpy ride but having to listen to the inspiring stories from the speakers I am certain this has had a great impact on the locals, refugees and the global audience,” Dana told CGTN.

Among the line-up of 16 speakers at the event was a former refugee from South Sudan. Mary Maker, who was a teacher at the camp, is now currently on an education scholarship in Rwanda.

“There’s more to life ahead that is what I want to encourage  brothers and sisters at the camp to believe in.All refugees want is good education,”Mary told CGTN on the sidelines of the event.

Over the past year and a half, 20-year-old model Halima Aden, who was born in Kakuma refugee camp and lived there for seven years, has appeared in nine magazine covers, including Vogue as the hijab wearing model. The hijab mostly worn by Muslim women is part of their tradition and she became the first Hijabi model from the camp.

“To think two years ago I could even pick up a magazine and flip the inside pages and see someone dressed like me. So it’s been quite a journey.”

“I want you to remember that although the children here are refugees they are children,” she said at TEDx event.

Some of the speakers also  included Pur Biel a 23-year-old Sudanese athlete who participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Mercy Aukot a Sudanese social worker, as well as Aminah Rwimo an International award winning Congolese filmmaker.

In May 2018, a report by the World Bank International Finance Corporation estimates Kakuma’s informal economy as $56 million, a figure the Turkana County government says denotes the hard work of the refugees.

While almost 350 guests flanked the dome where the TEDx talks were happening a larger group of Refugees were watching the speeches from mounted screens in the precincts of the camp. JUNE 9, 2018

Equally so, the different exhibitions at the venue gave visitors a chance to witness the unique Turkana culture and display exceptional talents from those at the Refugee camp.

Kakuma camp set up in 1992 initially to take in mostly Sudanese refugees it is now hosting at least 185,000 refugees from 13 nationalities.

TED-X is a world renowned non-profit organisation devoted to ideas worth spreading usually in the form of short,powerful talks delivered by today’s leading innovators,thinkers and doers.


Written by How Africa

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