Kenya: strength in spirituality. Pontifex, Hear Us.
20 November 2015

Mary Angel lives at the Jesuit Refugee Service Safe Haven where women, girls and young children who have survived sexual and gender-based violence receive protection and livelihood training (Angela Wells/Jesuit Refugee Service).
If we refugees are poor in spirit, if there is no peace in our hearts, then we will suffer. Without God, we wouldn't have made it this far, I wouldn't have been able to travel across three countries as a child. It is only by grace that I'm still alive.
Kakuma, 20 November 2015 – Refugees across Eastern Africa ask Pope Francis to hear their messages as he journeys through the region at the end of November and engages with citizens, refugees and world leaders. They ask him to continue to encourage inter-religious dialogue over discrimination; help us to spread generosity instead of greed; and let justice reign over violence.

Testimony 

My happiest memory is of my parents. All the love in their hearts was for me. They taught me all about the Church, and I'll always remember how peaceful my mom looked when she prayed. They gave me strength in spirit which I'll never forget. 

I lost both of my lovely parents to war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When I left home, I travelled to Kenya in the back of a petrol truck by myself. The driver was a kind man and took me free of charge. 

Since 2011, I've been living in the Jesuit Refugee Service protection area of Kakuma refugee camp, because I've experienced too much insecurity within the camp.  The only place I can be safe is here and at my school. I get to live with women from different countries – like Somalia or South Sudan – and learn about their customs. 

I try to be brave by remaining strong in my faith. If we refugees are poor in spirit, if there is no peace in our hearts, then we will suffer. Without God, we wouldn't have made it this far, I wouldn't have been able to travel across three countries as a child. It is only by grace that I'm still alive. Prayer helps me to forget my past life and reminds me that God is here and with each of us. 

I finished primary school, and now I'm in secondary school in the camp. I need to study to become someone in the future. I really like science, and I will become a gynaecologist one day to help women with their health problems – women who've been affected by violence like me. 

Hopefully, I will return to Congo to do this work. I miss my country, but for now I can't go home, because of insecurity. I am being resettled to Canada in a few months, and I'll be able to start my life over then. 

Dear Pope Francis, 

Welcome to Africa, Pope Francis. Please remember that people in refugee camps need the Church and the People of God to be with us, to give counselling and hear us. Refugees of all faiths need spiritual guidance to become stronger.  

Pope Francis, what is your vision for refugees in the world? Has the Gospel spread into these refugee camps? 

May God bless you. 

In solidarity, 

Mary Angel, 21, Congolese, student, future gynaecologist, refugee