In Kyangwali refugee settlement located in western Uganda, meet Tamari Mutesi a young lady 27 years of old, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is helping the women teaching them tailoring. The initiative she works with aims to combat violence against young single mothers and other refugee girls, including those mistreated by their husbands, by helping them gain economic independence. Her trainees have started their own tailoring business, earning enough to be self – reliant. “I feel so happy to see fellow girls getting skills to stand for themselves, to feed their families, and help their parents and neighbours” said Mutesi.
Another successful story of how refugees are helping other refugees is that of four refugees boys from Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Sudan, who have formed an organization called Coburwas International Youth Organisation to Transform Africa (Ciyota). The name Coburwas is named after their countries of origin. They are helping children who are living in Kwangwali camp to go to school. One of the four boys, Joseph Munyambanza, fled the war in Democartic Republic of Congo at the age of 6. Later, he and his adolescent peers raised funds by working on farms and constructed a classroom. They identified the neediest children and enrolled them to study.
Realizing girls aged 10 and above were most at risk of falling out of school and get into early marriage, the Coburwas launched a scheme to help them complete primary school and enter secondary school. It sets up a hostel for about 50 girls, enabling them to study. “Girls’ education is what I am passionate about. We have a big number of girls and less education infrastructure to support them” said Munyambanza. Sheila one of the beneficiaries of Coburwas initiative, 16 years old from South Sudan, who has just finished primary school and planning to continue studying. She said Coburwas provides a safe environment for learning, as well as support for dealing with unwanted sexual advances. Those who complete primary education are sent to secondary schools outside the settlement, and come back to learn more skills and receive mentoring during the holidays.
Annet Atieno, Ciyota’s education manager, said primary age girls are at risk of sexual abuse, especially those who are orphans, cared for by guardians and living in poverty in the settlement.
What happens after secondary school? For those looking to go on to higher education, philanthropic organizations can help (Mastercard foundation). Since 2013, the foundation has offered scholarship to more than 30 male and female refugees living at kyangwali to study at the universities around the world. One of the beneficiaries, Favourite Regina from Rwanda graduated last October from the African Leadership Academy programme at the US International University in Nairobi, and has since returned to Kyangwali to oversee projects and motivate its young girls. “I talk to them about how everything is possible, and not to look at men as a solution” said Regina.
From the Reuters