Clare Morneau is a 17 year old girl in Toronto. She started the Kakuma Girls Education partnership at her school and between girls living in Toronto and Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.

 

something to hold in your hand

"I first heard about Kakuma Refugee Camp when my dad and the company he worked for, Morneau Shepell, visited the camp. I already knew I was lucky to live in Canada because I’d learned a lot from my sister Grace, who is from Uganda. I was also starting to learn about the situations, good and bad, in other countries in Africa.  When my dad and colleagues were in Kakuma they visited the schools in the camp and talked to members of the UNHCR and other aid organizations about what was needed there most. And that was girls’ education.

The UNHCR agreed it would be valuable to create a dedicated girls’ secondary school given the challenges girls face in obtaining education in Kakuma. Morneau Shepell supported the building of the school in 2013. Currently only two per cent of eligible refugee children go to secondary school in Kakuma and a minority of those are girls. This is a shocking percentage, one that seems almost impossible to someone living in a first-world country.

Morneau Shepell Secondary School for Girls (MSSSG) enrolls studious, hardworking girls while also helping the most vulnerable girls in the camp. Girls who are orphaned or only have one parent, or those who lack family support and protection, are at a disadvantage. They have no means of earning money and they risk being pulled from school to care for siblings, do tasks such as collect firewood, or get married. If they go to MSSSG they can stay in school, be safe, and focus on their education.

I go to Havergal College in Toronto. Havergal is an all-girls, private day school.  It’s a really great school. Not long ago I knew nothing about refugee camps or Kakuma and many of my friends at Havergal didn’t either. I decided that I wanted to change this.  By exploring the Kakuma girls’ world, I had a chance to explore my own. I was getting a perspective that is rare for a typical Toronto private school student, and I wanted my friends and classmates to have this opportunity, too.

Writing letters, penpal-style, seemed the best way to get started. Through this correspondence, I got the idea for this book. I want the voices of the Kakuma girls to be heard, and I want to show how education fosters hope. 

We had quickly learned so much about each other. I wanted something material from the exchange that we could hold up for ourselves and others to see. "

- Clare Morneau   

 

About Clare

A passionate advocate for girls’ education and refugee issues, Clare Morneau is a 17-year-old who lives in Toronto with her father, Bill Morneau, mother, Nancy McCain, and siblings Henry, Edward and Grace Acan, who joined the family in 2010 from northern Uganda. Clare is compassionate, driven and committed to working for real change. As a student at Havergal College, she founded the Kakuma Toronto Girls Education Partnership. She completed a four-week internship at the Global Humanitarian Lab, a partner organization of the United Nations, in the summer of 2016 and has been named a Global Humanitarian Lab Youth Ambassador by the organization. While at the 2016 G20 in China with her father, she interviewed International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde for the Huffington Post. Clare is a scheduled speaker at the Walrus Talks Africa’s Next Generation on Nov. 9, 2016 in Toronto. Other speaking engagements will be announced in the coming weeks.

I share a personal connection with all the girls. I see myself in each of them in terms of their yearning for education, family responsibility, and unwavering talent. The young women’s futures are limitless because of the education they are getting. As I have learned, the past shapes the future and your story becomes your strength.
— Kuoth Wiel, Actress, Model & Humanitarian, Los Angeles

 

The making of Kakuma Girls

Clare Morneau launched the Toronto-Kakuma Partnership with Morneau Shepell Secondary School for Girls (MSSSG) and her school, Havergal College in 2014 with the help of Mohamud Hure, UNHCR. Then she had the book idea. Clare is principal writer of Kakuma Girls.

Clare Morneau

10 girls at MSSSG (Sarah Nyajuok Gik, Fardosa Ali Hassan, Nyimuch Chuol Wel, Christine Bachoke, Zahira Habila Ariss, Esther Nyakong, Nhial Alek Tabitha, Rita Monday Tom, and Amach Mabior are key contributors: they shared their stories with Clare, answering her questions about how they or their parent(s) got to Kakuma, their education experiences and dreams. Students at MSSSG in Kakuma also took photos for the book.

Rita, Nhial, Zahira, Nyimuch and Fardosa looking at the polaroid photos they took.

Girls in the writing partnership in Kakuma and Havergal College wrote letters to one another and several wrote essays on contemporary topics such as friendship, refugees, war and peace.

To Anna from Irene

To Anna from Irene

Photographer Jjumba Martin (Uganda) and editor Carol Devine (Canada) visited Kakuma and MSSSG in July 2015 to assist with making the book

Havergal College girls in the letter-writing partnership Image: Clare Morneau

Havergal College girls in the letter-writing partnership
Image: Clare Morneau

Clare, also with assistance from Sarah Cha and Carol, did research on Kakuma, refugees, and country contexts.

Former Kakuma refugees Panther Kuol, Elizabeth Agutu (Kakuma) and actress, model and humanitarian Kuoth Wiel (who was a refugee in Ethiopia) contributed pieces as did Mohamud Hure and Cathy Wachiaya from UNHCR in Kakuma, Kenya and Lois Rowe, VP of Havergal College.

Cathy Wachiaya at work, Public Information Associate, UNHCR Sub-Office, Kakuma

Cathy Wachiaya at work, Public Information Associate, UNHCR Sub-Office, Kakuma

Kuoth Wiel, refugee, actress, model and humanitarian. based in LA. Actress in The Good Lie   

Kuoth Wiel, refugee, actress, model and humanitarian. based in LA. Actress in The Good Lie   

Clare Morneau and Panther Kuol

Clare Morneau and Panther Kuol

When Clare turned 17 she went to Kenya for a special meeting with some MSSSG girls in Nairobi  (she unfortunately couldn't visit Kakuma camp due to a security threat against westerners)

Left to right: Nancy McCain, Adut Dau, Lula Abdulkhadir Modhar, Esther Nyakong, Clare Morneau, Irene Kinyanjui, Christine Bachoke, Sarah Nyajuok Gik. image Storey Wilkins

Left to right: Nancy McCain, Adut Dau, Lula Abdulkhadir Modhar, Esther Nyakong, Clare Morneau, Irene Kinyanjui, Christine Bachoke, Sarah Nyajuok Gik. image Storey Wilkins

Isabel Foo designed the book and the infographics.

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Doug Laxdal of The Gas Company printed the book in Toronto

Many others helped, thank you.

You are learning about it and hopefully will read the book and/or get engaged!