NGUVU Edu Sport Brings Tuta Back to Juja from Kakuma Refugee Camp

Michael Nyangamoi, also called Tuta, was born in the South Sudanese city of Juba. He and his family belong to the Didinga group, an Eastern Sudanese Tribe. Due to the civil war raging in his home, Tuta and his family had to flee into the neighboring country, Kenya. After being first stationed in Kakuma refugee camp at the South Sudanese border, Tuta arrived in Juja, a town in Central Kenya, in 2016, together with other children and has been housed with foster families through the help of sponsors. His family still lives in the refugee Camp.

When for the first time the then twelve year old boy participated in the NGUVU Edu Sport Street Football League, he caught the attention of the NGUVU coaches through his soccer talent. He became a member of the NGUVU Edu Sport e.V.-Selection Team and was quickly integrated into the team.

Lothar Firlej, founder and coach of NGUVU Edu Sport e.V., attests to Tuta’s significant development in football as well as in his personality; he described Tuta as an unbelievably warmhearted and lovely child that is curious and open. Kenyan NGUVU coach Owuor described him as calm, but in no way a shy boy who knows that he can get far, if he only believes in himself and makes an effort.

“To play fair and respect the coaches - that is the most important thing when playing football,” says Tuta. “But the most important thing in life is family, Tuta revealed. “And to pray to and respect God.” In 2017, a year after he came to Juja he said that he was very happy, maybe happier than ever before. 

On the night of the 7th January 2018, Tuta’s life changed all of a sudden; once again the child who already had to see and suffer a lot in his young life was ripped out of his now familiar setting. In a cloak-and-dagger operation, Tuta and other children were taken back to the refugee camp in Kakuma; they haven’t been the only cases that had to suffer this fate in Juja. It was stated that the people responsible for Tuta and two other refugee children couldn’t pay for them anymore. It was only the next morning when the NGUVU coaches found out that Tuta had been taken back to Kakuma. 

Every attempt to stop the relocation of the children turned out to be in vain. Tuta and the other children were also only informed while on the way where their journey would take them. Tuta had to leave most of his personal belongings in Juja since only one bag got hastily packed for all three children. He wasn’t informed about the reasons for his relocation, no more than his mother was, who lives with Tuta’s four, six and eight-year-old brothers in Kakuma.

The family has been happy to be reunited, although his father is still living in South Sudan and tries to support the family from there as best as he can. Ever since leaving Juba, Tuta saw his father only once when the latter visited his family during the four months Tuta spent in the refugee camp. 

The boy described the circumstances in which his family has to live in Kakuma as inhumane. They share one small room without beds or mattresses and sleep on bed sheets. His mother tries her best to provide food for him regularly, at least. Luckily enough, he is able to continue going to school even though there are no leisure activities or pastimes available at the camp, Tuta said. 

The Kakuma refugee camp was founded in 1992 in Northern Kenya’s Turkana desert, as a reaction to the enduring war in South Sudan. This region is one with the worst infrastructure and also the poorest in the country. It wasn’t until international organizations engaged more with the community that humanitarian help, educational institutions and medical supply could be provided. With time, mostly provisional and currently overcrowded schools and markets were formed. The climate conditions of the dry desert are a tough burden for the people there, reports Mario, who is a native of South Sudan, engaging with different organizations spearheading for rights and freedom in his home country. “Whoever dares to go to the streets after 6 o’clock in the evening will be beaten up by the police,” Mario says. He also describes Kakuma as an open jail.

At present, there are more than 500,000 people living in Kakuma and Dadaab, the second biggest Kenyan refugee camp at the Somali border - and more than half of them are children.

Tuta reports that he is especially hopeful to be back in Juja and with his team one day, and that the NGUVU Selection Team – was often in his thoughts – giving him support during his time at the camp. Luckily for Tuta, in the beginning of 2018, NGUVU Edu Sport e.V. desperately searched for a possibility to bring the boy back to Juja. Driving into the camp independently turned out to be a risk too dangerous to take. After several phone conversations proved without a doubt that Tuta’s mother would support the return of her son to Juja, NGUVU only waited for the next possible opportunity in form of relatives or friends of the family who traveled from Kakuma to Juja and who could take the boy with them.

That moment came at the 23rd of April 2018. When Tuta came home from school in the afternoon, his mother told him that he had a short-dated opportunity to travel back to Juja with a friend on that very same day. “The whole family hugged for one last time as goodbyes were made,” Tuta reports. “And then the journey back began.” He went on to confess that ever since he learned, in March 2018 from a friend of his mother who lives in Juja, that NGUVU was trying to get him back, he and his family had been hopeful that this would work out . His mother spoke on the phone saying she was convinced of the program’s intend to help and encouraged her son to be active and diligent in the team and in school. She said she trusts NGUVU and the chance her son has for a better life through the participation in the project.

Tuta is now living together with another South Sudanese refugee boy who is as well part of the NGUVU Selection Team under the protection of house mom Rose, who NGUVU Edu Sport e.V. sought out. His team took him in again with great joy and warmth and he was quickly reintegrated in his class 4 North at Gachororo Primary School. In Juja- Gachororo, many people on the streets welcomed the young footballer back. He agrees that he misses his family but he is just overwhelmingly happy to be back at home through NGUVU Edu Sport e.V.