By Kathy Yamashita

 KathyYamashitaonKenya Pilgrimmage

Some members of the United Church Pilgrimmage team waiting for the United Nations airplane which took us from Nairobi up to Kakuma airfield. The people are: (left to right) Denise Moore from Toronto, myself, Carol Bennett from Toronto, Cheryl Curtis from Mission and Service office and Marlene Lightning from Maskwacis, Alberta.

Summer 2017 is atypically hot and there doesn’t seem to be a respite coming soon. Here in Lethbridge the temperature has been hovering around 30 degrees centigrade which is too hot to leave pets or children in the car. This heat reminds me of my Global Pilgrimage visit to Kenya in early April to visit our Mission and Service partner agencies of the National Council of Churches in Kenya. One of their mission projects was located in Kakuma Refugee Camp in the northwestern Turkana County. Our team of four pilgrims spent three days at this United Nations refugee service centre which is near the borders with Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The temperature stayed around 40 degrees centigrade for the three days of our visit. The landscape was scrub and yellow desert. The wind was hot, dry and dusty. While the people were welcoming and our accommodations were comfortable, the environment was hard to endure. We only had to stay for three days but all of the service providers and the refugees lived in this dry heat every day. I was told that the average length of stay for a refugee was 7 years before repatriation or immigration.

The National Council of Churches provided the wooden supports and the corrugated iron roofs for all of the homes which are each about 6X12 feet in size. The people will build mud walls and cooking shelters during their stay. About 160,000 people live in Kakuma Refugee Camp, the size of a city! They are given subsistence food, water, other supplies and utensils to cook their own meals. There are rows and rows of tin and mud huts with very few trees. Dirt roads are not maintained and you need a Land Cruiser with a very high clearance to get anywhere.

Some people have lived all their lives at Kakuma which has been in operation for about 25 years now. The hospitals will deliver about 400 babies each month. There are schools for the high population of children and services for disabled refugees who can receive prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs. Residents have constructed shops along a street called “Little Mogadishu” named after a city in Ethiopia. There are projects to teach the people how to grow peanuts and make peanut butter. I saw a fish pond where Tilapia were being farmed.

The message is that our Mission and Service contributions are distributed with great care to organizations who will use the funds wisely. In the case of the National Council of Churches in Kenya, the funds are used to save lives. Please work among your local congregations to get this message across. We need to help our Mission Partners across the world as that is what Jesus would want us to do.

I am willing to bring my slide show of the Kenya visit to your church so that you can get a better feeling of what I experienced on my pilgrimage. You may email me at: View Email with an invitation to talk to your congregation or Women’s or Men’s groups at your church.


Blessings for a happy summer

Kathy Yamashita, President of Alberta and Northwest Conference