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Helping Refugees to help themselves

Support refugee self-reliance

Photo of robert hakiza
28 22

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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.

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


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jon Hanson

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!

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