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The First Ever TedX Event in a Refugee Camp | AFRICA | OTR is a lifestyle magazine with a focus on Africa and its people in the diaspora
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The First Ever TedX Event in a Refugee Camp

by Eva Rose Tesfaye on June 2, 2018

The first ever TedX event in a refugee camp will take place on the 9th of June in Kakuma Camp in Kenya. The event will feature talks by current and former Kakuma Camp refugees as well as experts and performers that want to help those who were forced to flee their homes.

TED is a non-profit with the mission of spreading ideas. It began in 1984 with a conference devoted to the convergence of technology, design, and entertainment, but it now covers all topics. It calls itself a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.

Kakuma Camp is a large refugee camp in Turkana County in northwestern Kenya. It is second biggest to Dadaab. It was first established in 1992 to accommodate Sudanese refugees but has grown over the years to take refugees in from all over Africa, including South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, the DRC, Eritrea, Uganda and Rwanda. The thatched roofs and small brick-houses currently host about 185 000 refugees.

Close to it, a new settlement is in the process of being built, with the aim of it being a place for refugees and the host community to share services and farming and incubating businesses.

The aim of the event is to offer “a different lens into the reality of life as a refugee, away from the images of devastation and suffering, and towards stories of resilience, of contribution, of creativity.” The theme of the event is Thrive, as opposed to the survival narrative that often accompanies refugee stories, showing that empowering refugees can help shape and peaceful and tolerant future of the world.

The event will take place under a tent at a school within the camp. The audience will comprise of refugees as well as high profile people from Nairobi and other parts of the world. It will also be livestreamed to screens in other parts of Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps.

The event will be livestreamed with the hashtag, #TEDxKakumaCamp. You can register for the digital event here and create a party so that others can watch too. Afterwards, all the talks will be released online.

Speakers and performers come from all over Africa including the diaspora:

Halima Aden is a Somali-American fashion-model who was the first “hijabi model” and a UNHCR Goodwill ambassador.

Mercy Akuot is a South Sudanese advocate for women’s rights having escaped a marriage to an elderly man.

Pur Biel is South Sudanese athlete who fled to Kenya at age 10.

Georgiana Goodwin is a photographer who specializes in environmental issues in Kenya.

Mary Nyiriak Maker is a South Sudanese advocate for education as well as a student and a teacher.

Nomzamo Mbatha is a South African actress and model and part of UNHCR’s LuQuLuQu tribe.

Josphat Nanok is the governor of Turkana County.

Henok Ochalla is an Ethiopian humanitarian and was the project manager fr development of the Kalobeyei settlement in Kakuma.

Hortence Aminah Rwimo is a Congolese filmmaker who tells refugee stories.

Apurva Sanghi is the World Bank’s former lead economist for East Africa.

Paul Slovic is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregan.

Riya William is a South Sudanese gender and peace advocate.

Performers include gospel singer, Mercy Masika, hip-hop artist, Octopizzo, and slam poet, Emi Mahmoud.

The event is curated by Melissa Flemming and Dana Hughes with support from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as volunteer teams. Hughes is UNHCR’s senior regional spokesperson for East Horn and Great Lakes region of Africa. Before joining UNHCR, she started her career as an investigative reporter and began covering foreign affairs. Flemming is the chief spokesperson and head of communications for UNHCR.

Featured Image via Flickr/Ecole polytechnique / Paris / France

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Eva Rose Tesfaye
Eva Tesfaye has traveled around the world her whole life but thinks of Africa as home. She loves reading novels and watching plays (especially ones with people of color in them). She has a love-hate relationship with her big curly hair.
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