Jackline Nambafu came to Canada from Africa with her two-year old son in 2008

From the deserts of Africa to the Sub-Arctic, a refugees’ story.

Jackine Nambafu's family are the "the lucky ones," she says, who escaped from the conflicts in Kenya to make Houston, B.C. their home.

Kakuma UN Refugee camp, a sprawling basket of humanity at the northern most corner of Kenya, is home to over 100,000 displaced people fleeing conflicts from all over Africa.  Kakuma, loosely translated from the Swahili word for nowhere, is aptly named for this sand-blasted region which receives little or no rain. It was here that Jackline Nambafu and her mother arrived in 1996 after fleeing a civil war in Uganda.

“I was 10 years old when we arrived,” says Jackline. “I lived in Kakuma for twelve years before finding sponsorship with a church mission which bought me to Houston.”

“I was one of the lucky ones,” she explains. “In the camp we lived in a simple, one-room mud hut, thatched with grass and a bare earth floor. We hardly had anything, just a few pots and pans and plastic containers to collect water from the community well. I slept on a dried mud platform with no mattress and often went to school hungry. The UN provided food which was supposed to last a month, but it wasn’t what I was used to and at first it made me sick. There was never enough food to go around and local Kenyans from nearby settlements frequently raided the camp to steal food from us”.

But the lack of food was not the only problem. With few established social structures, human rights conditions were fragile, especially for women.  Being entirely dependent on humanitarian aid and with no possibility of work or self-determination, this life of exile consisted of constant waiting and dreams of new hope.

In 2008 on a bitterly cold January evening, Jackline accompanied by her two year old son and pregnant with her second, landed at Smithers airport, her dreams of a new beginning at last becoming a reality.

“It was so cold,” said Jackline.  “I wore two jackets but was still freezing. I’d never seen snow before and it felt really weird under my feet.”

Within days of settling into her new home Jackline enrolled at the Houston campus of Northwest Community College. Sandi Lavallie, CCP instructor, remembers first meeting Jackline. “There was something warm and accepting about Jackline. Her willingness to learn and determination to make a success of her new life has been a joy to watch. We should not underestimate the huge social adjustments and cultural differences that face refugees in Canada, which makes Jackline’s achievement so much more remarkable. We are all very proud of her.”

On June 9 Jackline completed her grade twelve and graduated from NWCC, Houston Secondary School and Houston Link to Learning. We all wish her the very best of luck for the future.

Learn more about Kakuma refugee camp at http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e483a16.html

 

Just Posted

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

Skeena First Nations push for full closure of recreational fishery

Eight First Nations on the Skeena River watershed say DFO’s chinook restrictions isn’t enough

‘Daddy bonus’ common in B.C. workplaces, study finds

UBC researchers say dads don’t have to be number one in the office to get a raise

30 degrees and warmer forecasted with heat wave in B.C.

The weather could stay well into next week, according to Environment Canada

Family reunion almost 50 years in the making

Adopted Norwegian man finds his biological mother in Endako.

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

Independent schools continue to top Fraser Institute secondary school list

Think tank says its ratings are fair to all schools, public and private

Former Somali child refugee fights to stay in Canada

Former child refugee Abdoul Abdi’s judicial review set for today in Halifax

U.S. border separations ripple through midterm campaigns

Several Republicans to break from President Donald Trump amid boarder separation issues

AFN chief accused of being too close to Trudeau

Perry Bellegarde insists he is not that close to the Liberals as elections looms

Three injured after industrial explosion in Newfoundland

The roof of the warehouse was blown off in the explosion near St. John’s

Ottawa Senators trade Mike Hoffman, less than a week after allegations involving partner

Following the trade Senators make no mention of allegations against Hoffman’s partner

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Most Read