School Uniform


Education is a path to a brighter future that is often out of reach for refugee girls and boys. A school uniform is especially important to foster a strong sense of community within the school.


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Why a school uniform?


Do you remember how proud you were to wear your new clothes on the first day of school? How it made you excited for the possibilities that the year would bring? UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, wants children who've been forced to flee their homes to have that same opportunity. Most escaped violence with nothing, so school uniforms — which caring Americans help provide — are crucial to success in the classroom.



Clad in her bright blue uniform, one refugee girl is beating the odds


South Sudanese refugee Esther, along with her widowed mother and her two older sisters, fled the violence that plagues their homeland. Since 2009, the family has lived in the UNHCR-supported Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

Knowing school was the only way forward for her daughters, Esther’s mother made sure they resumed their studies at Kakuma. As Esther explained, “In spite of my mom being illiterate or never going to school, she has always told us how school is important. She wanted better lives for us. She never wanted us to live a life that we will regret in the future. She just wanted the best for us.”

Esther and her classmates attend high school at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

Esther and her classmates attend high school at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

Every morning since starting primary school, Esther has proudly put on her school uniform. This dedicated student learned English, the language taught in class, in a matter of months — and has flourished. Now at the top of her class in high school, Esther has a mission to fight against traditions that consign women to domestic roles.

"I want to break the record and prove that girls have a future."

Esther is setting her sights on returning to her home country and becoming a neurosurgeon, even though the odds are against her — only 1 percent of refugee children go to college. She recognizes the long road ahead but is resolute.

"I want to be the girl that made it from the camp to campus, and from a refugee to a neurosurgeon."
—South Sudanese refugee Esther


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