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Singing, Dancing, and Learning about Family


(side story I forgot to share) When I showed the students my dogs- Cookie and Monkey. The first thing they asked was, "what are those for?" Like I was going to eat them! Another person also questioned me that I was feeding them. Such a different perspective. I have also been asked if I had children, and shockingly I say no. One student explained to me that in his culture as soon as you marry you must have children.

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Sawa Sawa. Ok ok.

I love the mornings here, it is so comfortable and my walk from my room (also known as the oven) to the main Film Aid house is so calming and refreshing. It isn't really that scenic, but I love this morning walk.

Mandazi Kenyan doughnuts for breakfast. Yes please!

Today, the students focused on family. They wrote about how their family was unique from other families. Trevor and I found that most said that they loved their family because they paid for them to go to school. What a thing this is, students who are so thankful for education! I also learned that several didn't live with their parents or even know where a parent currently was living. Some parents were stuck in other countries and they didn't know where they were only that they were far away. Their parents are doctors, farmers, and many other worthy careers and now are here unable to work or put their degrees to proper use.

The students chose a family member to interview this evening and photograph. I can't wait to learn more about their specific families. They share great general info in their videos, but I think I will learn so much more from their interviews.

Today, we also did some dancing! During breaks and lunch we let loose a little. Today, I taught a few students to two-step and salsa. I called on one of the boys to dance with me and put all of our hands in the proper dance positions, the classroom roared! Poor embarrassed Andrew! I also taught Tito to do a bit of salsa. The students taught us some dance moves as well. Dancing is so much fun no matter where you are! The kids also sang me a gospel song, that I hopefully can post when I get better internet connection. It was so moving and beautiful how their voices melded together in praise.

Tomorrow our boxes should arrive meaning more cameras for the kids to use, now they won't have to share. Sharing is another kid universal thing- they all are so excited to get cameras that they huddle around me so much I can't even write their names down. We are planning to leave the cameras with film aid so that the kids can continue to check them out and use them.

After class today, we did a bit of adventuring around the camp. We visited Bole the oldest place in the Kakuma 1 and then visited a home of someone who sells fabric. I bought fabrics to make 3 dresses and we next visited a tailor who will sew the dresses with her pedal sewing machine. I'm excited to see them finished and excited to have a tailor made dress!

We also ventured out to photograph the soccer games at the camp, kids were climbing in trees to watch the games and there were kids everywhere. I'm waiting to learn what % of the camp is children. There are so many children and they are so excited to see white folks and even more excited to be photographed. I promised there will be thousands of sweet faces in photographs coming.

We drove around to other soccer fields where we saw how they were making mud bricks and also came upon what we thought was a wedding. It was actually a South Sudanese ritual dancing ring. (All on my camera but check out Josh's images: https://www.instagram.com/jbrasted/We were greeted by the leader of the group and he welcomed us to enjoy and take as many photos as we wanted. We got in the thick of the dancing (more like jumping around), drums playing, and people having so much fun. It was an unreal experience, a young man walked up to me and greeted me telling me to please share this experience with the world so that others know they are a peaceful welcoming people. I can't tell you how many people where there dancing and even more people watching- so many people. At that moment, it really hit me how many people are living here, how many people have been removed from their home. Earlier today we discussed the public announcement boards with a lady and learned a bit more about the process of resettlement. I also spoke with the lady who sold me fabric, she is from the Congo, her simple comment was heart stopping- we are unsure of your future. She has lived in Kakuma for 7 years- I can't handle being uncertain about restaurant I am going to, or what time I will get home from work, or if I'll have wait on someone else for information. Waiting 7 years (many cases much longer) to know if you will stay or go, if you will be sent home to a place where you don't have a home, or if you will have to go to a completely new country and culture and start over. I can't imagine.

My students are relatively young, and I get the feeling many do not remember "home" as Kakuma has always been home. What will their lives be like if they get resettled or if they are sent home to a place where their house and community is no longer due to war. They may or may not have the violent past of their parents, few of them have even said anything to this effect, but I pray for them as they grow up, moving to a new place leaving home no matter what is hard, but can you imagine either scenario? Or can you imagine being a parent with this uncertainty for your family. Its heartbreaking, standing in the mass of people dancing today, I wanted to learn each of their stories, yet I know that is impossible, but I hope through working with students here, they learn to look and appreciate individuals and I hope that Houston students will seek out to know individuals instead of lumping people together.

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​© 2014 Rebecca J. Hopp Photography & Design

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© 2015 Rebecca J. Hopp.  All images and video content are strictly copyright. All Rights Reserved.