Stephen Lokangko Meshaki is 17 and lives in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. He is originally from Democratic Republic of Congo – South Kivu Province. When Stephen was about six years old he remembers when the militia came and took his father away. His mother decided to escape with Stephen and his three other siblings.

They first crossed the border into Tanzania – when their money ran out they lived rough for two weeks in the market. Stephen still remembers how- when they were running out of hope that a Muslim man from Rwanda gave his mother enough money to make the journey to Kenya. Stephen says he will never forget that simple act of kindness that changed their fate.

The family has lived in Kenya ever since, but they never heard from Stephen’s father again.

Stephen is in form two one of Kakuma’s two secondary schools. He is a prefect and tries to be a role model for others. Just getting to secondary school is an accomplishment in Kakuma.

Stephen says he wants to become a geologist, and dreams of returning to mineral rich DR Congo to work. While Stephen has his sights set on going to university and starting his future career- what keeps him going each day is music.

“Musical talent is inside of me because I always like to sing- at home, at school, at church everywhere I go- that’s why I say – music is inside of me.”

He lives in a small compound with his extended family in Kakuma, including his grandmother and great aunties. Together they sing and make music and dance. Stephen says that he cannot imagine his life without it.
“Life without music it would be as if I have lost a valuable thing in my life because music is a talent that god has given to me, he says. I sing at home, at school at church- all the time.

The challenge for Stephen will be continuing his education beyond form 4. In Camps like Kakuma, secondary school is a luxury. Only 1 in 100 students will be fortunate to graduate and continue on to university.

Yet Stephen is determined to achieve his dream.

Written by Leigh Foster
Video by Nicholas Hopkins Hal

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