Kakuma: bicycles aid counsellors
02 February 2015

Peer counsellors, many female, walk long distances through what is essentially a large town to reach refugee families needing psychosocial care. Bicycles allow counselors to travel more quickly and safely around Kakuma and to reach many more families. (Christian Fuchs/Jesuit Refugee Service)
It has really helped because it is easy ... to reach the different communities in different parts of the camp to serve them as we could not reach them because of the distance. They have helped us to supervise different areas around the camp which need our help which we could not reach before.
Washington DC, 2 February 2015 — Kakuma refugee camp hosts more than 170,000 refugees from about 12 African countries, with the largest populations having fled Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan to avert violence and famine. Jesuit Refugee Service has provided services in Kakuma since 1994, and is currently the only organisation in the camp that provides psychosocial support. 

Jesuit Refugee Service Eastern Africa provides individual and group counselling, runs a specialized facility for the protection of women and children suffering from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and implements a mental health programme that provides education and life skills for refugees with learning disabilities.

As part of JRS psychosocial services in Kakuma, 540 refugees serve as peer counsellors for more than 2,000 fellow refugees. In addition to the direct service provided to those being counselled, the peer counselling programme also serves as leadership development for counsellors as they strive to improve their own community. This is in line with the JRS mission of accompaniment, working with instead of for refugees, empowering them to lead their own communities, transforming their own realities.

Despite efforts of peer counsellors, one of the biggest issues they face, especially women, is lack of safety when traveling to and from the counselling site in the sprawling refugee camp. Peer counsellors, many female, walk long distances through what is essentially a large town to reach refugee families needing psychosocial care. Bicycles allow counsellors to travel more quickly and safely around Kakuma and to reach many more families.

"Since I received the new bicycle, counselling sessions are more effective in terms of time and the number of sessions are not missed or delayed. I was so thrilled to receive the bicycle because it has assisted me a lot to make my work here easier," said JRS counsellor Kavi Moran.

A grant from the Loyola Foundation enabled Jesuit Refugee Service to purchase 69 bicycles for the peer counsellors last year. JRS staff are able to access community members with greater ease since visits and follow ups are easier to execute. Additionally, as traveling time is reduced staff members are able to handle more clients.

"Bicycles also enable our staff (facilitators) who conduct the community group counselling, family counselling … and awareness sessions to transport water for the clients," said Haron Bilal, JRS Counselling Supervisor in Kakuma refugee camp

Refugees arriving to Kakuma have physical, material, and psychological needs that threaten their survival. There is an escalating need to address trauma and other psychological problems due to an influx of refugees arriving in the camps.

"It has really helped because it is easy ... to reach the different communities in different (parts of the camp) to serve (them) as we could not reach them because of the distance. They have helped us to supervise different areas around the camp which need our help which we could not reach before," said Monicah Atiek of JRS.







Press Contact Information
Angela Wells
angela.wells@jrs.net
+254 20 3874152