Mar 14, 2014

Former Somali refugees raise funds in Canada to build pre-school in Dadaab

Source: UNHCR - Thu, 13 Mar 2014 01:05 AM
Author: UNHCR
Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Kosprins Lyrical Wax
DADAAB, Kenya, March 13 (UNHCR) - Six years ago, Muuxi Adam met two friends in a coffee shop in the Canadian city of Winnipeg to talk about ways they could help other Somalis stuck in refugee camps in Africa.

The three, all Somali but from different clans, started by setting up a non-governmental organization, Humankind International, to spread awareness about Somali refugees in neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia, and to raise money for education projects for refugees. 
Somali children at the new pre-school in Dagahaley camp funded by Canadian NGO,  Humankind     International.

In February, their initiative took concrete form with the opening of a pre-school in the Dagahaley camp, part of the world's largest refugee camp complex at Dadaab in north-east Kenya. "More than 400 children lined up to enrol in the school, but we could only take 140 for now," Muuxi told UNHCR at the recent opening ceremony. He added that half were from the camp and half from the host community.

The school has three teachers, two from the refugee community and one local Kenyan. CARE International, UNHCR's partner for primary education in Dagahaley, has connected the school to a regular water supply.

"This is one of my greatest moments in life," said Muuxi, who grew up and suffered in war-torn Somalia before becoming separated from his family and making his way in 2004 to Toronto in Canada, where he is now a citizen.

He first gained inspiration for an education project after tracking down and visiting his mother in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. While there, he met an eight-year-old refugee and asked him about school. He was shocked when the boy told him he could not go to school. That was the seed which was watered in the Winnipeg café with his fellow Somalis, who had both lived in Dadaab.

Muuxi, who is aged in his late 20s, said his NGO had spent US$35,000 on the Dadaab school, but he was confident of raising more funds through Humankind International. "Our target is to sponsor 120 refugees every year," he said, while adding: "What is important is that the school is now open to benefit the community."

Ahmed Warsame, the ethnic Somali head of UNHCR operations at Dadaab, said it was "great to witness the extraordinary efforts made by former refugees to help their communities to alleviate human suffering." Warsame, coincidentally also a Canadian citizen from Winnipeg, pledged UNHCR support for the school through the provision of equipment and learning materials.

The refugee agency supports other primary and secondary initiatives at Dadaab, which is home to some 350,000 registered refugees.

By Duke Mwancha in Dadaab, Kenya

Mar 9, 2014

Service to Refugees in Kenya

This is not one of those notes that are written to update people about one's whereabouts. It is rather my humble recognition that I am really blessed to be doing what I do. In deed, I am truly blessed to be among a few people with opportunities to serve refugees; urban refugees in Nairobi as well as refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab camps in Kenya.

Dadaab where I have been for close to one year now is considered to be the biggest refugee settlement in the world with refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Uganda and South Sudan. I must salute my friends and humanitarians who have left their families miles and miles away to come and work in this remote area just to serve refugees. 

Even though the place is sometimes faced with a lot of security challenges, service delivery to refugees never stops. 

Misplaced priorities, deliberate subordination, cancerous selfishness and idiotic discriminative tendencies make service delivery a little harder sometimes. However, these are challenges you would usually find in environments like ours.

All refugees that I meet have faced difficult situations in life but their collective resilience is just amazing. They always inspire me. As a citizen in a peaceful country, I may never have known what it means to be a refugee had I not met them in camps.

Quite honestly at this point, I am hardly finding anything more satisfying in my life than working for refugees. It makes me happy to see them getting exposed to opportunities that are likely to prosper them. 

I usually admire the work of Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) in camps. Through its activities and services, KRCS in my opinion sets pace for all of us working here.

I am happy for my friends not just from KRCS but also in all other agencies who either directly or indirectly work to uplift life for refugees. The Swahili song below has some words that they might find inspiring.