Education for South Sudanese refugees in Kakuma Camp

Simon Puot Poth is educating youth displaced by war in South Sudan. Photo: Paul Plett/CLWR
Simon Puot Poth is educating youth displaced by war in South Sudan. Photo: Paul Plett/CLWR

“Fostering the Peace in Society”

(LWI) – Simon Puot Poth believes in education’s ability to bring people together.

“It fosters the peace in society, because it enables people to discuss any differences they have among themselves. If there were no education we would not be in the position to share ideas with each other.”

Peace is very important to Poth. South Sudan, his home country, desperately needs it. Poth is headmaster at Hope Primary School in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. Many of his students come from war-torn South Sudan, and he is a refugee himself, forced to leave his home shortly after the brutal conflict began in December 2013. His three brothers were killed and their homes and properties burned. He has lost contact with his parents and remaining relatives.

“There is nothing I can do. I hope God can protect them wherever they are,” he says.

Teaching Despite Challenges

Poth is doing everything he can to help, despite the hardships he faces and the difficult circumstances in Kakuma—overcrowding and no permanent water sources being two of many: “I want to help my brothers and sisters better their lives through education.”

His leadership is needed. Over 4,500 students were registered at Lutheran World Federation (LWF) emergency schools in May 2014, a number that is expected to double in 2015. His students need school supplies, textbooks and desks where they can do their lessons comfortably, and they need stable classrooms, not tents that flood in the rainy season or blow away in desert winds. Many of the teachers at Poth’s school have previous experience, but not all of them. Poth would like them to have more learning opportunities to develop their skills.

Hope for Peace

Poth appreciates the support they’ve received and hopes it will continue. In Fall, a shipment of kits and quilts from Canadian Lutheran World Relief arrived in Kakuma camp. Many of the kits contained school supplies.

“I knew Canada had been standing behind South Sudan for a very, very long time” he says.

Poth is asking people to encourage South Sudan’s “warring parties at least to bring peace back to South Sudan, so that people can sleep in peace as they used to be before.”

By Heather Pryse, Jennifer Clark and Paul Plett, CLWR