Refugee speakers steal show at historic TEDx event

Tens of thousands tune in to first ever TEDx in a refugee camp.

Refugee speakers wowed audiences around the globe when they spoke at Saturday’s TEDxKakumaCamp, the first ever TEDx event held in a refugee camp.

“We’re most proud today of our refugee speakers, this is the first time they’ve ever been on such a public stage,” said TEDxKakumaCamp co-curator Melissa Fleming while opening the event in Kakuma Camp, north-western Kenya.

“What a special place Kakuma is because of its remarkable people”

“We hope this TEDxKakumaCamp will illuminate what a special place Kakuma is because of its remarkable people,” added co-curator Dana Hughes.

Established in the remote Turkana region in 1992 to serve Sudanese refugees, Kakuma Camp is now home to those displaced by wars across Africa.

Talks were held in a specially-erected tent in the forecourt of a Kakuma Camp school and featured presentations from twelve expert speakers under the theme Thrive.

Listening in the tent was an audience of 350 Kakuma residents, corporate sponsors, representatives of the Kenyan and foreign governments, and international NGOs.

The audience broke into cheers as 23-year-old South Sudanese runner and former Kakuma resident Pur Biel shared his story.

“In life, we all face struggles,” said Pur, who arrived alone in the camp as child and went on to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. “You can either run away from it, or towards it. But the important thing is you keep on the road and keep running.”

“It’s amazing to see how the refugee speakers have overcome all these barriers without giving up,” said Diana Armini, Global Manager of the H&M Foundation, a TEDxKakumaCamp sponsor. “It’s a reminder that we’re all so much more alike than we think.”