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Friends Theological College Responds to Humanitarian Crisis

By Oscar Lugusa Malande, FTC Bachelor of Theology student

Studying at Friends Theological College prepares one to serve in different areas of ministry. One core area of ministry is missions and evangelism. There are specific courses in missions and evangelism, but the concerns of missions and evangelism are also integrated with other areas of study, like pastoral care and counseling, transformational development, theology and ethics. Besides this there are other programs and workshops such as the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) that prepare one to be a peace agent, and Quaker business workshops that prepare one to be self-reliant by starting income generating projects.

Recently the college has been working hard to revive the early Quaker missionaries’ vision of having a self-propagating, self-sustaining and independent African Quaker church. One project started on campus is the bio-mass briquette-making project that helps in producing eco-friendly cooking fuel. Students also participate in fund-raising and income-generating projects. By doing this there is much that is instilled in a student, especially the building blocks to becoming a future leader who will raise up a generation in Africa that will fully support itself.

But these skills are also important in serving others. Over recent months, Pastor John Moru, leader of the Turkana Mission and an FTC graduate, expressed interest in bringing the briquette technology to the Turkana area. Etienne Paul (pictured above, far right), pastor of a Quaker meeting within the Kakuma Refugee Camp and a refugee himself, requested support for pastoral education within the camp from Friends Theological College.

In response, FTC has started a program at Kakuma Refugee Camp that will see to it that FTC students are able to implement what they have learned and participate in bringing humanitarian aid to the camp. Kakuma Refugee Camp serves more than 90,000 refugees who have been forcibly displaced from their home countries because of war. Kakuma was established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1992 to serve Sudanese refugees. It has since expanded to serve refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Namibia and Zambia.

The camp is a “small city” of thatched roof huts, tents and mud abodes. Living inside the camp is equally prison and exile. Once admitted, refugees do not have the freedom to move about the country, but are required to obtain movement passes from the UNHCR, which is the boss on the ground, and the Kenyan government. Other agencies on the ground include the Lutheran World Federation, the National Council of Churches in Kenya and the International Commission for Refugees.

Essentially, the refugees are confined to the Kakuma camp area.They are not allowed to move freely outside of it, and they may not seek education or employment outside of it. This results in an escalation of the psychological trauma that all refugees experience.

At the same time, nearly all residents in drought-stricken areas of Turkana encounter difficulties in their ways of cooking. In the camp, firewood is provided every three months, but the firewood only lasts three weeks.

Kakuma Friends Church is situated in Kakuma 2, zone 1, block 3 at the center of the camp. It was organized by Pastor Paul, an Evangelical Friends pastor from Congo and himself a refugee in the camp. About 400 people attend worship on Sunday mornings. The church has developed into an FUM village meeting, part of Lodwar Monthly Meeting, East Africa Yearly Meeting-North and the Turkana Mission.

Recently Nick Obaga (Bware Yearly Meeting), FTC bachelor’s student, and Pastor Simon Bulimoh (Lugari Yearly Meeting), FTC lecturer in both New Testament and Missions and Evangelism, had the opportunity to visit the camp. They were accompanied by Esau Ewalan, FTC diploma student from Lodwar, and hosted by Pastor John Moru and Pastor Etienne Paul. Moru, Ewalan and Paul continued the initial consultation in a second work period. They did a feasibility study and suggested that Friends Theological College should develop a service program in Kakuma Refugee Camp and the Turkana Mission area, in partnership with Kakuma Friends Church, Turkana Mission and the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of Friends Peace Teams. Through this program, students will learn important practical ministry skills and be empowered to assist in meeting real and urgent needs, bringing both the Good News and good news to the refugees, the Turkana people and others in the region.

In the larger Turkana Mission area and within the refugee camp, the college is now at work making the bio-mass cooking fuel briquette-making technology available. More broadly, within the camp and in the immediate area, the FTC program embraces participating in the evangelism and outreach activities of the Kakuma Friends Church and the Turkana Mission, providing training in personal and family pastoral care and counseling, particularly in response to trauma. In collaboration with AGLI, they will provide AVP and Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) training.

In addition, we hope that, with your help, the Kakuma church may be assisted in its efforts to put a roof on their building. We look to provide briquette-making machines for each of the other eight village meetings in the Turkana Mission. These machines are to be made and distributed from within the camp. In addition to providing an important contribution to the well-being of the Friends in the neighboring meetings, this will also help those in the camp to be self reliant as a community. This is very important in bringing people out of a dependence syndrome.

Thirty-four people from Kakuma Friends Church have signed up for training in pastoral care and counseling. Two hundred have stepped forward to learn to make bio-mass briquettes. Longtime FTC staff member, Elijah Shikondi, is with Pastor Moru and his wife and students, Nick Obaga and Esau Ewalan and his wife, as I write. In fact, on calling Obaga to learn about current developments, the response was quite positive and exciting! He noted the members of the community were very happy, for they will be relieved of a heavy burden. They have been finding it difficult to use the firewood given to them. Now that they can make briquettes for themselves it will be easier to prepare meals without strain and even be able to sell some for income.

In January, three diploma students headed to Kakuma and Turkana for a month of field education. The residential diploma students will take their Missions and Evangelism class trip to Kakuma during the two weeks before Easter. The students will have opportunities for evangelism and pastoral visiting in preparation for Easter. They will assist FTC staff in teaching pastoral care and counseling skills. AVP and HROC sessions are to be scheduled.

Please hold the FTC community in your prayers and the Light of God’s love as we grow in our capacity to serve the Lord and the neighbor. Gifts to support FTC’s ongoing mission education program can be sent to FUM, marked FTC general fund.

Oscar Lugusa Malande has volunteered as a pastor for the last 10 years in Vihiga Yearly Meeting of Friends, Kenya. He is married to Zipporah Adema and is blessed with two children, a girl called Axtell Imali and a boy called Samuel Malande. Oscar is in his final year in the bachelor’s degree program at FTC. Assisting the principal’s office communication desk is a great opportunity toward developing his career as an effective leader and paying his college fees.

  • James Ochieng

    we were going through the story and was wondering how far you have gone with the issue of training and production of briquettes.