Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support

by IsraAID
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support

It’s been more than two years since COVID-19 upended the world. Not a single country was spared, and especially not the 83 million refugees across the world. IsraAID has been at the forefront of responding to this crisis, including in Kakuma and Kalobeyei Refugee Camps in Kenya.

In order to bridge the gap between the community’s needs and IsraAID’s capability amid COVID-19 restrictions, the IsraAID Kenya team had to derive new ways to continue reaching the communities we work within, despite the constantly changing restrictions.

What was meant to be a roaming Child Friendly Space allowing facilitators to meet children and their families across the region, launched in another format - as home visits. Through at-home activities, the children continued to receive support in developing their creativity, decision-making skills, resilience, and managing stress.

During door-to-door activities, facilitators have been able to make stronger connections with not only the children, but also their families. Improving relationships with parents and caregivers maximizes the benefits of the CFS activities. Facilitators can educate the adults on how to ensure the children’s physical and emotional needs are met, and can provide COVID-19 messaging and stress management skills which are just as important for caregivers as the children. 

As COVID-19 restrictions eased, our team was able to return to regular CFS activities, reaching thousands of children, but even after larger group activities were able to resume, the team continued their door-to-door visits to ensure no child was left out, especially children living with illnesses or disabilities. We expanded our Protection activities through increased door-to-door visits and mobile CFS activities, creating the opportunity for facilitators to notice additional issues at home that may not have previously been addressed, to be referred for additional services. We also increased community awareness of referral pathways at household and school level.

To support our growth in the Protection sector, consultants offered refresher Child Protection, safeguarding, case management, and stress management training, ensuring all staff who are in contact with the community are prepared to identify and respond to protection issues, as well as manage themselves and their mental health in difficult situations.

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As COVID-19 restrictions have eased since the summer, we’ve run regular Child Friendly Space (CFS) activities at 7 sites, serving 2,137 children. We’ve reached 176 children with disabilities through door-to-door play activities. We also engaged 10,575 caregivers, focusing on stress management.

We’ve made significant progress on our Protection agenda. In addition to identifying cases through door-to-door and mobile CFS activities, we’ve increased awareness of referral pathways at household and school levels, and built relationships between key agencies, driving more effective follow-up. In the last six months, 111 cases have been identified, referred, and followed up, including 28 by community leaders; previously, only 17 cases had been referred, without follow-up. We’re also engaging adolescents as school MHPSS Champions: 8 teachers and 52 students from 4 schools are participating in structured sessions to strengthen their resilience and facilitation skills. Teachers are also covering child protection (CP), stress management, and self-care.

Lastly, we’re strengthening our organization through consultants. 36 field staff have been newly trained in mobile data collection, and had refresher training on CP, safeguarding, sexual and gender-based violence, case management, and stress management.


Key successes include:

  • Identifying and referring 111 CP cases, securing necessary assistance for affected children.
  • Supporting 176 children with disabilities through door-to-door engagements, who may not have reached without the shift to mobile CFS services.
  • Engaging two teachers (1 male, 1 female) from each of the 6 schools with on-site CFSs, and 4 facilitators from UCCK Church (the 7th site) as CFS volunteers, increasing communal involvement.
  • Responding to dynamics in the field to improve service quality: as field social workers encountered increasing cases that required immediate intervention, we provided training on basic counselling and MHPSS support, and how to refer cases requiring specialized care. After one recent capacity-building session, staff demonstrated a 60% improvement in understanding key aspects of stress management and child safeguarding.
  • Identifying and reporting CP cases in the host community; bridging gaps between CP services and the community by educating on referral pathways and services.
  • Mentoring 8 teachers and 52 adolescents on MHPSS, embedding knowledge in the community that they are sharing with others.
  • Holding 3 dialogue forums in the refugee community and 1 in the host community, involving the Area Advisory Council, to discuss challenges to CP in the community and discuss how to mitigate these.
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According to the UNHCR, at the end of 2020, 82.4 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide, including 20.7 million refugees – people who have crossed a border seeking safety – and 48 million internally-displaced people, who have been displaced within their country of origin. IsraAID has been at the forefront of international efforts to respond to this truly global crisis, working with refugees and displaced people in Colombia, Germany, Greece, Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda.

Our work with refugees begins with emergency relief, before shifting towards promoting longer-term integration and resilience. We focus on empowering displaced communities and always include refugees as integral members of our teams in each of these places, running sustainable programs to build resilience, combat gender-based violence, advance child protection, improve sanitation, and offer livelihood opportunities.

For World Refugee Day 2021, we asked IsraAID’s facilitators in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement, Kenya, to share their perspective on what the word “refugee” means by capturing a moment from their daily lives and work on camera. IsraAID’s teams in Kenya – made up largely of refugee community members – focus on supporting refugee children through protection and informal education activities at IsraAID’s Child Friendly Spaces.


“Refugees are people who fled war, violence and crossed borders to seek refuge. We don’t allow the situation to dominate and traumatize us. Here we are playing a blind-fold game as a form of psychosocial support.”

– Hussein


“Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their homes due to conflict. I practice yoga, as a form of psychosocial support to help cope with the past.”

– Fabrice


“Refugees are people who left their homes and fled to other countries to seek refuge and safety. I engage children who are suffering from trauma in indoors games to help them forget their past.”

– Ezadeen


“Refugees are people who left their homes, possessions, jobs and beloved ones behind due to war and political instability back home in their beloved countries. To forget the past and focus on the future, I sing songs and play with children as form of psychosocial support.”

– Qumbi


“Refugees are people seeking refuge in a foreign country due to political instability and war. I raise awareness on issues such as Sexual & Gender-Based Violence, to reform lives and help people deal with the past.”

– Santos



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The past year has in no way been a “normal” year. Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic had immense and adverse implications on this program, just as it did in each and every one of our lives. Travel became increasingly difficult, local restrictions changed regularly, and vulnerable communities, including refugee and host community members in Kakuma and Kalobeyei, were placed in an even more vulnerable position. Within this reality, activities as originally planned were close to impossible to implement. The IsraAID Kenya team, during this period, launched a number of emergency response interventions to support vulnerable communities in Kakuma and Kalobeyei. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have accomplished the following:

Recruitment of staff and facilitators from the refugee and host communities. A child protection program manager and MEAL officer were also recruited. Facilitators were trained on Child Protection.

A baseline assessment was conducted to determine resilience in children and caregivers, and measure the level of knowledge among community members and leaders regarding MHPSS and CP. 

Promoting awareness of MHPSS and Protection through door-to-door home visits: PSS activities were facilitated on the household level for children, and caregivers were also engaged. The door-to-door approach was a major success, not only in overcoming the challenges of COVID-19 limitations, but also offering our team an opportunity to directly engage children with disabilities who would otherwise be unlikely to participate in activities at child-friendly space as leaving their homes is more complex. Furthermore, home visits provide more individualized attention to children because the intervention is inherently in a much smaller group. This also offered us more face time and relationship-building opportunities with parents, who are more active and therefore more aware of MHPSS and protection issues.

School-based MCFS approach: IsraAID Kenya partnered with Finish Church Aid (FCA) to provide MHPSS to children and adolescents in four schools, engaging them in structured art and play activities. This relationship helped us reach new target audiences, including launching school-based interventions and engaging additional host community members. This helped us reach more children, community leaders, and teachers with MHPSS and protection awareness.

Radio Messaging: IsraAID partnered with two local radio stations to hold child-Friendly CP and MHPSSAwareness Campaigns on radio show broadcasts and edutainment programs. These feature stories and short plays that build stress management skills and promote COVID-19 prevention guidelines.  

Call Centre: IsraAID Kenya operates a call center that follows up with families targeted by door-to-door outreach efforts to provide ongoing information and referrals. This ensures continued engagement of families dealing with stressful situations.

Community leaders also engage in small meetings with the program manager to provide basic awareness on CP and referral pathways.

The main challenge for our project has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to continuously monitoring new and changing guidelines that affect our team’s ability to travel and more, the levels of stress in the target community has of course skyrocketed, and the “shadow pandemics” of rising rates of Gender-Based Violence, malnutrition, and other protection issues are increasingly present in our outreach work. Some activities could not occur given the situation. For example, the plan to engage community leaders through dialogue forums and children’s clubs; and we were unable to host awareness-raising gatherings. 

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Apio Annet - Country Director, IsraAID Kenya and IsraAID Uganda

How has the COVID-19 outbreak impacted your daily work?

Refugee camps are a particularly difficult environment to control the spread of infection because access to vital essentials — including soap, water, other hygiene products, and indeed information — is extremely limited. Refugees in remote areas speak multiple languages and very few own radios; television is not even an option.

How are you able to respond?

Our facilitators, who — during ‘normal’ times — run each of our Child-Friendly Spaces, are our main asset. They’re locally-recruited, meaning that they are from the refugee or host communities, and IsraAID Protection professionals have trained them to support children and their families. This means that across Kenya and Uganda we have 75 young, committed community leaders, ready to jump into action.


Irene Mulanda - Child Protection Specialist, IsraAID Kenya
Why do you enjoy working as a Child Protection Specialist?

"I love working with and for the children. They are all special in their own unique way. Finding creative strategies to enable them to cope well with their problems is more than just a job, it brings forth a fulfilling experience by itself."

What do you hope for the future of the community?

"I hope the community becomes even more self-reliant, in their skills, their knowledge, and their confidence. Resilience will enable the community to bounce back, regardless of any negative forces that come their way."

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Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IsraAID
Project Leader:
Molly Bernstein
Tel Aviv, Merkaz Israel
$3,257 raised of $99,000 goal
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