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From Kakuma to Canada: Gashaw’s Journey of Resilience, Friendship, and Hope - Caring For Refugees

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From Kakuma to Canada: Gashaw’s Journey of Resilience, Friendship, and Hope

2 October 2023 Henoch Yehayes Comments Off

Gashaw was born and raised in Gondar, Ethiopia. Political conflict led him to flee to Kenya from Ethiopia in August 2003. He spent 4 years in Nairobi and then moved to Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2007, where he would spend another 12 years. He described life at Kakuma Refugee camp to be difficult with poor living conditions where finding a job was hard and corruption was widespread. Gashaw estimates that at the time there were over 100,000 refugees. Many people fell sick at camp and with poor access to healthcare, many died as Malaria spread rapidly. Gashaw also fell sick with Malaria and talks of the hard recovery without access to healthcare or much support.

When asked how he survived all those years in a refugee camp, Gashaw says “You see others who have been there since 1991, and some are still sadly there. When you see others there for so long, you become grateful in the sense that the time I spent there was small compared to others. Seeing things helped me become strong morally and be grateful for the little things I had, where some lived in tents with snakes…”

“The friends you make in the refugee camp are long-lasting friendships. It was my friend who was sponsored by his brother in Ottawa, who connected me to a friend who introduced me to Care for Refugees and Elfinesh.” After all those years, through the deliberate and hard work from Elfinesh and Care for Refugees after a 3-year process, Gashaw arrived in Canada in 2019.

“When I came to Canada, Care for Refugees helped me find a home, write a resume to find my job, helped me create a bank account, and a phone plan, and Elfinesh helped me connect with other resources like ISANS, who helped me find my job at Dalhousie”. Gashaw mentioned how the vibrant Ethiopian refugee community helped him adjust well to Canada, where he was introduced to many friends and the community has become his second family. When asked what he is most grateful for in Canada, he says “Once I came to Canada, I came to appreciate the freedom of being able to go anywhere you want. To be able to work and live independently, to work and earn a living is a privilege. My life here I can not compare to what it was”

In the future, Gashaw hopes to settle down and start a family of his own. He also says,“ I hope to volunteer with Care for Refugees to support the sponsorship work to help refugees in any way he can. Refugees face horrible living conditions in the refugee camps in Africa. Care for Refugees is contributing a positive impact in refugees’ lives and it should be supported.”