Updates from the Kakuma – By Fr Lasantha De Brew SJ

Thank you Hadas and Robert 

Suddenly and abruptly, you both had to leave us at the Kakuma Refugee Camp due to the threat of the Corona Virus pandemic. We feel sad and uncomfortable as we were unable to have a fitting farewell for you after all that you have been doing for our beneficiaries and for us the JRS family.

Hadas, using your Trauma Therapeutic skills and expertise knowledge from Australia and Israel, you were able to meet many beneficiaries, to listen to their aggrieved and painful stories. Not only did you listen and counsel them, you also recommended very practical remedies to sustain the healing process. I was lucky to be a witness to some of these great moments of compassion in action. The joy and peace Onesphore and Esperance expressed after the Holy Mass of grieving for their lost loved ones, the smile Esperance had after so many long years were clear signs of your short, but committed and compassionate services at JRS. Your Spirit to go beyond boundaries and at times to be critical of institutionalized systems reminded me of Jesus to whom you have family links.

Fr Lasantha, Hadas and Robert at the Kakuma Refugee Camp
(Photo: AOR)

Robert Murphy, Jesuit Tertian a professional physiotherapist – you touched many hearts of our teachers, occupational therapists, lead trainers, parents and National staff involved with Children with special needs, especially the ones with severe physical disabilities. Yes, you trained them with skill, taught very many modern techniques of therapy and methods of assessment. More than that, you walked with them, visited them in the community and became ONE with them.

Robert, with utter enthusiasm you eagerly celebrated Masses with these most marginalized people on Sundays. You prepared your homilies with practical anecdotes and tips for life. You meticulously prepared your notes for therapy and homilies for daily mass at our residence. You enjoyed time at the gym and the long walks on muddy roads within the camp singing, “Safari Bado”. I shall not forget your lovable and affectionate calling, be it for meals, to the gym or the car park saying “LASANTHAAAAAA….” and my response, “Yes, Dr. Robert’.

Yes, both of you did so much for the JRS family, but the best and the greatest was the empowering of these suffering people. You brought joy and hope to them, “Tomorrow is something to Hope for” was your motto. That empowerment was made possible only through your walking with them at their pace, but also inculcating the need for speed and empathy to them.

Dear Robert and Hadas, you also strengthened our JRS family, made our residence and dining room LIVELY and HOMELY. Your laughter, long chats, enjoying TV news, watching the TV serial “Maria…”, volunteering for scullery, the strong arguments either for agreement or disagreement, and welcoming and thanking (Asante) the companions and especially the cooks (Anne and John) are the creative, simple ways you enriched our JRS family life.

In return, JRS too gave a very lasting gift to you. Yes, you cared for the refugees with dedication but JRS gave you the grace to “Be a refugee” in feelings and thoughts. With the news of the spread of Corona Virus, you had to leave instantly without many deliberations; you were unsettled with a planned future; you were made anxious and worried; you were made to be a refugee waiting to run away….. May you thank JRS too…..Trust in the Lord. God Bless you Hadas and Robert
May your memory live with us- ASANTENI


This article was originally published in the newsletter (March 20, 2020) of the Jesuit Eastern Africa Province (AOR).

(Banner photo: AOR, Fr Lasantha, Hadas and Robert at the Kakuma Refugee Camp)