Lim Bol, 21 years old: “There are great differences between life as a refugee and life living in your own nation. At home, I was working as a chemistry teacher at a basic school. When I think about serving people, it really excites me, because it helps my community grow. 

But when I came to the camp, I spent three months idle, with no job. Then, when a primary school opened in the refugee camp, a vacancy was advertised. I applied and found myself first as a teacher, and now as the vice-principal. It is hard work, but it is good work. I am serving people again.  

Before the war, my plan was to study medicine – it inspires me to see doctors work. I still hope to achieve my dream, but first I have to finish my schooling, and here I am without the opportunity to do that. That is really killing our future.”

Lim is from South Sudan, where the escalation of the 2013 conflict has forced 670,000 people to flee to neighboring countries. A further 1.7 million people are homeless inside their own country. Lim’s parents are both dead and his brother refused to leave home to flee to Ethiopia with him.  

Lim is alone at Kule refugee camp in Gambella and, while his basic needs are covered, he says the interruption of his schooling is the thing that gets him down the most. While he waits to complete his secondary education, he is working as a teacher and vice-principal at one of the camp’s over-crowded primary schools. 

UNHCR helps the Ethiopian authorities to provide basic education, but a lack of funding means secondary schooling stops after one year instead of the required four. “This really is not good for us,” says Lim. “I want to go back to my country as someone with knowledge, you know, someone with the power to serve other people.” 

Written & Video by Dana Hughes

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