H&M Foundaton: First ever TEDx from a refugee camp

The world’s first TEDx event in a refugee camp took place at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in the Kenyan northern county of Turkana, on 9 June. Take a moment and listen to the immensely inspiring lecturers and get a greater understanding of the importance of education for ALL children.

5 Jul, 2018
Hip-hop artist and activist, Octopizzo, performs outside after the first ever TEDx event held at a refugee camp on 9 June 2018 in Kakuma, Kenya.

Today, there are 16.1 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, of which more than half are children. Education is crucial to helping refugee children thrive and build brighter futures for themselves and their communities. Yet, globally only half of all refugee children have access to primary education, and only 22 percent go to secondary school. This is why H&M Foundation and UNHCR have joined forces in a project supporting refugee children with the school supplies they need to attend school.

“H&M Foundation wants to contribute to positive change for refugees, and we do this by supporting UNHCR efforts in many countries. By also supporting the arrangement of the world's first TEDx in a refugee camp, we wanted to be involved in raising perspectives and stories from people with their own experience of living in exile. It is crucial to prevent prejudice and contribute to important knowledge — something that is needed more than ever.” 

Diana Amini, H&M Foundation

Nomzamo Mbatha speaks on stage. She is famous for playing "Moratiwa" in the South African romantic comedy, Tell Me Sweet Something. The model and brand ambassador is also a High-Profile Supporter of the UNHCR fundraising campaign, LuQuLuQu.

The idea with the TEDxKakumaCamp was to help change the general perception of refugees and to promote their enormous potential. The talks revolved around innovation, education and transformation, offering a thought-provoking lens on the lives of refugees and telling extraordinary stories of resilience, contribution and creativity.

TEDxKakumaCamp featured local and international speakers exploring the theme Thrive. One of the speakers was athlete Pur Biel, who grew up in Kakuma and made a historic start in the 2016 Summer Olympics when he participated in the first Refugee Team ever. He stated: “I can show to my fellow refugees that they have a chance and a hope in life. Through education but also running, you can change the world”.

Children gather around a huge screen outside of the first ever TEDx event held in a refugee camp.
Halima Aden practices backstage before her speech. Halima Aden was born in Kakuma refugee camp and is the first "hijabi model" and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. She travels internationally, speaking at universities and various events about the importance of inclusion and acceptance.
Speakers, performers, and organisers gather for a group photograph on stage before the start of the event.
Mercy Akuot's baby, Jonathon, sits in the audience while his mother speaks on stage. When she was only 15, Mercy Akuot was married off against her will to an older man. She escaped the forced union and now advocates for women's rights and supervises a women and girls empowerment program in the camp.

Read more about the event here.

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