The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A doll for Amina

Refugee child's delight sparks toy drive

erin pence
Harriet Kamakil still recalls an 8-year-old Somali girl named Amina who visited her daily at her office in the refugee camp where she worked.

Kamakil gave a doll to Amina, who had never owned anything in her life, let alone a toy, and she never forgot the power of that doll. So when Kamakil came to the U.S. for school, she looked for a way to help in a bigger way. Earlier this year, the political science student at Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, organized a drive to send play items to the Kakuma refugee camp in her home country of Kenya, where some 30,000 people live.

I told people around campus, professors and students, and everyone wanted to help, said Kamakil, who was raised a Lutheran. Then the news here picked it up, and we started getting so many toys from all over the community.

For future drives, Kamakil checked with a national agency that provides aid but learned that toys didn't fall under the category of humanitarian aid. I know that it's not clothes and food, but to me a toy is humanitarian aid, she said. It means so much to a child.

After graduating next spring, Kamakil plans to attend graduate school, and then continue working with refugees. There's a new refugee agency in Columbus (Ohio), and I would like to work with them for a year and learn, she said.

But she also misses home and hopes to return to Africa and use her education and skills to help those in need there.


Print subscribers and supporting Web members may comment.

Log in or Subscribe to comment.

text size:

this page: email | print

March issue

MARCH issue:

All are welcome