Escaping Kakuma: How women find freedom through soccer in a refugee camp

The refugee camp is the third largest in the world, but it has been around for so long that it has lost any pretense it is supposed to be temporary.

…The refugees that reside there come from nations with prominently conservative cultures — primarily South Sudan and Somalia — where women are expected to stay in their homes and handle traditional household duties, like cooking, cleaning, and child-raising. The women you do see in the market are often carrying heavy loads of firewood. Every duty related to maintaining a homestead almost exclusively fall on women, while men — people who in a better world would be working — talk away their days.

…Unless you seek them out, refugee women are largely invisible in Kakuma. To be a refugee man is to feel ignored by the world. To be a refugee woman, then, is to be erased from it.

…There were still many more stories to tell within the world’s third-largest refugee camp, however, a place where sports have greater meaning as a way to combat idleness within an oft-forgotten population. This is a story about the women of Kakuma.

…Angelina Jolie Primary School stands apart from Kakuma’s hatchet-shaped cartography. It was opened in 2005 — funded by the actress and special envoy to the UNHCR — as a boarding school for bright or at-risk girls. There, they can be nurtured in a safer environment, away from the problems within Kakuma’s traditional borders. The girls are given a more focused education — the classrooms are much smaller than in the coed schools that pack upwards of a 100 students in one room — and they perform, on average, much better than the rest of Kakuma on Kenya’s standardized testing for secondary schools.

Escaping Kakuma: How women find freedom through soccer in a refugee camp –



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