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Refugee stories

The refugee photographer capturing life-saving surgeries in Kenya

21-year-old photographer Patience Dosita Uwiduhaye is a go-getting force-of-nature who has never let anything stand in the way of her goals.

Originally born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at a young age, Patience’s parents were killed and her hand was cut off during the brutal civil war. She was adopted by a woman with disabilities who she credits for helping her to learn to live with one hand.

Patience later made her way to Nairobi after her adoptive mother died. It was here she joined an International Rescue Committee programme which gave her training in photography and videography, boosting her confidence to pursue her career.

We recently asked Patience to capture an IRC event at Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya, where over 40 specialist doctors came to perform surgeries and offer treatment. Their mission was to provide healthcare to as many people as possible, many of whom had been waiting months – and even years – to be seen.

Kakuma refugee camp is home to 186,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, 58,000 people more than it’s been designed for. Health services are stretched and it’s particularly difficult for people to access specialist services. Patience, being a refugee herself, believes it’s now important for her to be able to photograph refugees, as she has a shared understanding of their experience.

Here are five photographs Patience captured from the event:

1. 

67-year-old Logilae was blind for three years. The cataract surgery he had to restore his eyesight took just 10 minutes. Living outside of the camp, he travelled for two days to be able to get the surgery he needed. Now he’s able to see again, he has plan

67-year-old Logilae was blind for three years. The cataract surgery he had to restore his eyesight took just 10 minutes. Living outside of the camp, he travelled for two days to be able to get the surgery he needed. Now he’s able to see again, he has plans to set up his own shop and raise cows, sheep and goats.

Photo: Patience Dosita Uwiduhaye/IRC

2. 

Hawa fled Somalia and has lived in Kakuma Refugee Camp since 2009. “What I can tell you is that living in Kakuma is hard. Living in a refugee camp, it’s a really hard life.” She is a single mother of seven children and came to the centre to be treated for

Hawa fled Somalia and has lived in Kakuma Refugee Camp since 2009. “What I can tell you is that living in Kakuma is hard. Living in a refugee camp, it’s a really hard life.” She is a single mother of seven children and came to the centre to be treated for a haemorrhage. She recovered well from the surgery.

Photo: Patience Dosita Uwiduhaye/IRC

3.

People wait outside the centre after receiving treatment on their eyes. Surgeons, paediatricians, ophthalmologists, dentists and gynaecologists came to Kakuma for 10 days, where specialist doctors are not usually available.

People wait outside the centre after receiving treatment on their eyes. Surgeons, paediatricians, ophthalmologists, dentists and gynaecologists came to Kakuma for 10 days, where specialist doctors are not usually available.

Photo: Patience Dosita Uwiduhaye/IRC

4.

The IRC has provided services to refugees and people in the host community in and around Kakuma since 1992 and is the lead implementing agency providing health and nutrition services.

The IRC has provided services to refugees and people in the host community in and around Kakuma since 1992 and is the lead implementing agency providing health and nutrition services.

Photo: Patience Dosita Uwiduhaye/IRC

5.

A doctor performs surgery in Kakuma refugee camp, where people from over 16 countries are now living. 3,602 people benefitted from the ten-day health event.

A doctor performs surgery in Kakuma refugee camp, where people from over 16 countries are now living. 3,602 people benefitted from the ten-day health event.

Photo: Patience Dosita Uwiduhaye/IRC

 

The International Rescue Committee worked in collaboration with UNHCR, TIKA, Kakuma Mission and the Turkana County medical services to implement this 10-day event.

Health facilities in Kakuma Refugee Camp are supported by the European Commission's Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).