chapter  9
Where are the Girls? War, Displacement and the Notion of Home Among Sudanese Refugee Children
Pages 19

I paid a visit to the Kakuma Refugee Camp (KRC), located in the far northwest of Kenya near the borders with Sudan and Uganda, in the summer of 2005. I had been to this arid and remote location once before, years ago when I was a college intern with a famine relief agency. It was in 1981 and I was working among the indigenous Turkana population who had been made destitute and dependent by a drought that decimated their pastoral economy. Nearly 90 percent of their cattle herds, close to 80 percent of their small animal stock and 40 percent of their camels were lost, forcing them to live in relief camps. During my free time, I would visit the Maendeleo ya Wanawake (Development for Women) collective and assist them as they conceived and implemented their own development projects. While in Kakuma, I witnessed many of the contradictions that are associated with relief aid, particularly the USAID-funded Food-for-Work projects; but I also witnessed the remarkable Turkana women at Maendeleo ya Wanawake who, while I was there, ran a brick making business, were in the process of building a dormitory and separate latrines for girls so that they could attend school. The women were also experimenting with market gardening.