Our publications

“Closing Information Gaps in Kakuma Refugee Camp: A Youth Participatory Action Research Study”

Bellino, M.J., & Kakuma Youth Research Group. (2018). Closing information gaps in Kakuma Refugee Camp: A youth participatory action research study. American Journal of Community Psychology 62, pp. 492-507. DOI: 10.1002/ajcp.12277.

This study explores the role of academic and social support on young people’s educational pursuits in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp. Pairing ethnographic methods with youth participatory action research, we find that support often manifests as abstract, decontextualized encouragement with little grounding in the educational opportunity structure. We argue that this motivational discourse generates information gaps, fueling aspirations that neither prepare youth for understanding, nor navigating the constraints they will encounter. In response, we designed a social media platform orienting Kakuma youth to the opportunity structure, while encouraging them to set realistic goals and plan accordingly. Designing a resource by, for, and with Kakuma youth, we illustrate that refugees have the rights and means to access information on which their everyday well‐being and futures depend. This study illustrates that critical understanding of local and global opportunities can empower, rather than demoralize, young people as they shape their futures in exile.

“An Educational Resource Developed by, for, and with Youth in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya”

Bellino, M.J., & Kakuma Youth Research Group. (2017). An educational resource developed by, for, and with youth in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. Alliances by African Studies Center, University of Michigan, pp. 8-9.

“Many slip between cup and lip: Navigating noncitizenship and school-to-work transitions in Kakuma Refugee Camp”

Bellino, M. J., Oka, R., Ortiz, M., Khot, D.M., Abdi, A.A., Magdalene, A.A. (In Press). Many a slip between the cup and the lip: Navigating noncitizenship and life beyond school in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Journal of Refugee Studies. DOI: 10.1093/jrs/fead023

This paper draws from curricular analysis and ethnographic methods in school and community spaces where young people live, learn, and work in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp. We describe how formal citizenship education intended for Kenyan citizens is mediated by teachers working in refugee-serving schools, and how these messages interact with the informal curriculum conveyed through routine practices and discourses. Beyond school, we examine pathways that young people charted through apprenticeships within the informal economy, leveraging their social networks and
leading to more sustainable livelihoods. Examining refugee youth transitions after completing their schooling, we document “slips” between the civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions promoted in schools and those required within a limited opportunity structure dominated by a relief economy.

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