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Helping Refugees to help themselves

Support refugee self-reliance

Photo of robert hakiza
30 18

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Around the world, there is a refugee crisis. More people are displaced than at any time since the Second World War. From Syria to the Mediterranean, the numbers are increasing. But the system designed to respond to refugees is broken. People face decades in closed refugee camps, destitution in urban areas, or they are forced to risk their lives on perilous journeys. The status quo is unsustainable and our politicians are failing to find better solutions. But one group of people who are finding solutions are refugees themselves. Below the radar, refugees are leading change. Out of necessity, they can be highly innovative and entrepreneurial. Community-led organizations sometimes flourish, albeit on a small scale. The problem is that they are locked out of the system: they lack recognition, access to funding, and are ignored as prospective partners. So they are unable to scale. This idea is to support refugee self-reliance. It intends to show the world that, far from being passive victims, refugees can help themselves. The aim is to take one of the best examples of a refugee-led organization and scale it. We believe that by supporting an exemplar of this bottom-up, refugee-led approach and connecting it to a global network, we can begin a global movement that can radically transform the current top-down paradigm of aid delivery. YARID is one of the Refugee-led organizations. It is run entirely by refugees themselves and focuses on the issues that matter most to the community: how to help refugees create sustainable livelihoods and become self-reliant. Now we want to go even further and scale these self-reliance projects beyond one local community. The aim is to refine and scale the YARID model of refugee-led initiative. We will do three things: 1) Capture the Bottom-Up Process 2) Expand Geographically 3) Build a Support Network • A local refugee Network • A transnational refugee Network • A Global "Friends" Network

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our targeted beneficiaries are refugees themselves and refugee communities. We have identified other organizations created “by refugees for refugees” throughout different refugee communities in Uganda. Through partnership with pre-existing community structures, we want to expand YARID’s approach from urban areas to rural refugee settlements, and from there to other countries in East Africa.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We think that the YARID model, if scaled, can inspire a new paradigm in refugee assistance based on self-reliance, and help to radically reframe refugees in public debate. It contrasts from existing top-down approaches to refugee assistance in several ways: • It builds upon refugee’ capabilities: rather than assuming external solutions are necessarily needed, it begins by recognizing refugees’ own capacities and then seeks support on refugees’ own terms. • It offers sustainability: because it is based primarily on peer-to-peer support, it means that once established the networks can sustain the model. • It circumvents formal organizational gatekeepers: rather than being based on abstract “solutions in search of problems”, external involvement is premised upon community demand and therefore deep context-specific understanding.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.
  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

YARID (Young African refugees for Integral development) is a refugee-led organization) based in Kampala, Uganda that aims to unite refugees through different avenues like sports and skills training in order to address social issues like ethnic violence, youth unemployment, public health, and conflict resolution. www.yarid.org

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

There is a negative perception about refugees. When people talk about refugees, they look at them as people who cannot do anything by themselves and need to be supported all the time, this makes people think that refugees are dependents. But with my experience as refugee myself and as someone who has been working with refugees for years I have realized that there is a great potentiality is refugees if they are given a opportunity. the systems in place are the ones that make refugees dependents.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The world is facing the worse refugee crisis that has never happened since the second world war. This has forced million of people to move their home to look for safe places to stay. The situation is general and all the continents are affected. Here in Uganda the number of refugees has tripled from the last two years and with the ongoing conflict in the Democratic republic of Congo and South Sudan this number is expected to increase. Uganda is now as a country with the most progressive refugee policy. By scaling YARID and demonstrating the potential to facilitate refugee-led initiatives, we would offer inspiration to others – concerned citizens, international organizations, business, social entrepreneurs, NGOs - to find innovative ways to recognize and build upon refugees’ own skills, talents, and aspirations.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

People who will get involved in this project idea are the YARID Executive Director who will oversee all the activities of the project, he will be assisted by the program and development manager. We are also planning to hire a project officer who will coordinate all the activities of this project Idea. On top of this we have identified other organizations created “by refugees for refugees” throughout different refugee communities in Uganda. Through partnership with pre-existing community structures, we want to expand YARID’s approach from urban areas to rural refugee settlements, and from there to other countries in East Africa. The maintenance of this network could involve a potential technological solution to transnationally connect refugees and their partners and collaborators. Here we would also seek the input and inspiration of this platform.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

YARD is run by refugee themselves who come from the community and who know their community better. They understand the challenges and opportunities to become self-reliants

Geographic Focus

This idea target primarily Uganda with the possibility to expand to other locations in East Africa

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This project idea will need a minimum of 24 months to be implemented

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

30 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Jon Hanson
Team

Dear Robert, I think this is really strong concept and is grounded in a really important idea, that refugees should be empowered and enabled and not treated differently because they are refugees. In Jordan we are learning from the Syrian refugees in camps and they lead and guide our programmes. I would like to know what impact the YARI concept has had to date and whether or not you are able to use the concept in refugee camps or only in informal refugee settings? I would also like to know if you have any visuals (photos, videos) that you could add as this would really bring you proposal to life. Well done again and good luck!

Photo of One World In A Box
Team

Dear Robert,

You make a good point, acknowledging the strength, resilience and innovative way of thinking of refugees themselves is very important.
With our project 'One World In A Box' we want to start in 3 refugee camps in Eastern Africa, including Kampala in Uganda. It would be great if we could collaborate because not only will we be based in the same refugee camp, we also have a bottom up approach where we co-create the contents of the Box with all beneficiaries and stakeholders (i.e. other civil society organisations). Though we do have experience with Kampala, having your organisation on board would be wonderful because you can provide great insights of the camp and the refugees, and we can benefit from each others experiences and knowledge. Please keep in touch! All the best in any case with your project!

Best,

M. Ahmadi

Photo of Scott Goyette
Team

Robert,

You are clearly and amazing person with a HUGE heart. Keep moving forward and modeling the virtures our world needs. If you have time, let's connect and see how we can work together.

With Gratitude and Love,

Scott Goyette
Founder
Go Love Now

Photo of Rachel Mwakazi Skjærpe
Team

I love your idea. Everything starts from within - from the individuals in focus. So many programs are copy-pasted from somewhere else. Good luck!

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

With your experience, why do so many refugees locations have rules against the refugees working? Why can't refugee camps integrate employment activities for the refugees to do?

Photo of Ibrahim
Team

Hi Kevin,
In most western countries they restrict refugees from working, this is to protect jobs to citizens of that country. In Uganda they let the refugees work and have employment programs in all the refugee settlement camps..... https://www.devex.com/news/in-uganda-a-new-approach-for-refugees-and-for-ugandans-88774

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

Yes, exactly. So great to be in touch with you. I am greatly interested in including refugees in our development plans for Haiti. Haiti already has a few hundred African refugees every year. It would be amazing if Haiti could bring itself out of poverty and help others along the way. Kind of a reverse brain-drain. We're not in this position immediately, but knowing of your program know could be very helpful in the future. This year's OpenIDEO networking has been so helpful for our growth!

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

Have you seen our project: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/review/ecological-cookstoves-and-non-carbonized-briquette-cooking-system-in-haiti-saving-lives-saving-trees-creating-jobs-and-building-community

I'd love to hear your feedback on it.

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

We already actively hire nearly equal numbers of men and women. We actively reach out to bring in very able people with disabilities who otherwise might just be begging in the street (Few businesses offer jobs to people with physical issues.). I think it would be awesome for us to plan now to keep a percentage of our jobs reserved for refugees that we could sponsor from other less-secure countries.

Photo of Ibrahim
Team

That is a great and wonderful work you do, highly recommendable. With the many natural disasters striking Haiti, saving trees is important to save lives and environment too.

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

Thanks, Ibrahim! Everybody cooks, especially in refugee situations. That's why I think our stoves could be so effective.

Photo of Ibrahim
Team

True, and for the refugees they will get to learn new skills and get employed. Just out of curiosity, which countries do the African refugees come from? as never thought African refugees would go to Haiti being its distance far from anywhere else.

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

I just learned about this recently. Check this out! They come from Niger, Nigeria, and Lybia. They pay a huge amount of money and they fly to the Nigerian consulate in Jamaica. Then, they get on a boat going to the Bahama's, but the boat actually goes to Haiti. They drop them off, and they leave, and the Haitian government accepts them.

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

Crazy story, isn't it?

Photo of Ibrahim
Team

It is, i could not have imagined something like that happening and the risks involved. The sad bit is when they arrive in Haiti and there are not many job opportunities, that makes it hard for them to build a bright future.

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

Yes, exactly. But, I guess the Haitian government does their best to make them comfortable and welcome. The person I spoke with said that 20,000 Haitians leave for the DR every year while about 500 Africans find their way to Haiti as refugees. It's sad that they think they are going one place, and end up somewhere else. Refugee life is all about challenges.

Photo of Ibrahim
Team

It is amazing to see countries that are poor are open to refugees settling in their countries and don't put much restrictions on them, yet wealthy countries keep on tightening the noose on refugees coming into the country, lock them out of job facilitation etc. But great to see countless NGO's, faith centers, well wishers and volunteers do incredible job to ensure refugees safety and well being.

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

The more I learn about refugees the more I see the wasted potential. Are you familiar with the island of Naru? Austraila parks refugee people there like it's a prison. If refugees around the world were allowed to work, the world would be much more productive and prosperous!

Photo of Ibrahim
Team

I heard about Naru, the place house doctors, engineers, software developers, investment bankers and you name it, only reason they can't work is they are refugees. I can only imagine how many lives refugee doctors could save, the business they could open and a number of services they can perform and how frustrated they are seeing their skills come to waste.

Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

This is where you and I share a vision for the future. Refugees are only refugees because of one or two inhospitable locations. If a program that was hospitable and voluntary were developed, hundreds of thousands or even millions of quality applicants would want to go there.

Photo of Ibrahim
Team

We provide training skills to the marginalized communities in Uganda. We are in the process of starting ICT training programs to the refugees so they can seek employment in the ICT sector. If you find ICT training something that can be beneficial to fit into your project, let me know and we can talk more.

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

robert hakiza  It's great to have you in the challenge. I am curious to know if you started a conversation with potential users of your project, i.e. refugees. If so, what has been their feedback so far? Look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Photo of Vyonne Akoth
Team

Hallo Robert,

I admire you zeal and concern for refugees. We all know the challenges refugees face having left everything behind to protect their lives. Refugees are victims of psychological, economic and sometimes physical violence. I like that your project is giving them them opportunity to bounce back, giving them hope and especially the chance to rebuild their confidence. Your project is a great initiative whose impact can be shared with refugees and refugee led organizations in other parts of the world.

Photo of Dima Boulad
Team

Congrats on submitting your idea robert hakiza ! Id like to share this article that could be useful in your work: https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/05/21/funders-must-recognize-refugees-have-assets-not-just-needs
What i particularly like about this article is the shift in perspective that they're proposing.

Photo of Monica Curca
Team

Good work ... we worked on a project called The Refugees Welcome Guidebook that might be a good resource for you. http://refugeeswelcomeguide.net/

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Hello Robert --- your idea of shifting paradigms has a great potential for impact. I just have a few questions. You mentioned that the maintenance of the refugee network you are trying to build could involving leverage a technology solution to connect refugee communities. Have you identified such technology? Also, can you please outline specific steps that you would take to implement your idea?

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Hi robert hakiza 
Great initiave you are doing in Uganda, especially on creating an environment for refugees to take the lead in creating their future.
It would be great having a look at Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk  idea submission esp for the models such as http://www.ruralshores.com/ and https://www.samasource.org/ that he highlighted.I'm curious to know if there any local partners that you are working with so far and their role in the project. It will also be interesting to have your thoughts on whether there are any conflicts between the refugees and the local community, and your approach to potentially preventing them as you look to scale, i.e cases of exclusion.Lastly, is it possible to highlight or share some data on the impact of the initiative so far and what sort of help you need in getting to the next steps

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Robert,

Great project, in a completely different (European) context I also strongly focus on by refugees for refugees services, especially in the startup stage of European integration, maybe you can use some of my concepts?
www.openideo2017.refival.org
www.openideo2018.refival.org
www.a1216.refival.org (the model I propose)

Success!

Hans van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Shikha Dixit
Team

Hi Robert, Its really great to know about the organizations such as YARID. Great initiative!!

Photo of robert hakiza
Team

Hello Shikha, Thank you so much for your comment and good words.