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Strong Again! - Promoting Economic Independence through Vocational Skills and Functional Literacy for Young Refugees in Kakuma

We aim to uphold economic independence through comprehensive skills training and literacy, to enable refugees run businesses and find jobs.

Photo of Muzabel Welongo
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Since 2010 SAVIC has been dedicated to promoting self-reliance for young refugees through basic literacy, tailoring skills, and hairdressing skills. Our training programs focus on trades locally applicable to the business market, and building economic independence when they return back home. With adequate skills, adolescents and young refugees become more self-sufficient and choose to postpone marriage, and are able to prevent themselves from unintended pregnancies. Many girls who had dropped out of school and attended our vocational skills classes have been able to gain new skills and start a new life. Our vocational training programs are always accompanied by additional skills in entrepreneurship and reproductive health. Since 2012, SAVIC adopted the Kenya government’s ABET (Adult Basic Education Training) Curriculum for functional literacy. We also developed curricular in business skills, tailoring, hairdressing, and communicative English. Our literacy and vocational skills program are special, giving refugees package skills in literacy and numeracy, a trade, and the skills to make that trade a business, to earn a living.;


We target refugees aged 13-28 in Kakuma Refugee Camp, which currently hosts around 170,000 refugees. With funding, we would wish to also reach urban refugees in Nairobi. Refugees entirely depend on humanitarian aid, and only 1/3 of children attend school. Education and skills training offers the best opportunity for refugees to heal from trauma and losses they survived in their home countries.


The active involvement of the refugee community is crucial to achieving any success in promoting education and vocational skills among refugees. At the beginning of every program, we conduct interviews and group discussions with fellow refugees to take part in the training. For this contribution, we will also interview and hold focus-group discussions with at least 100 randomly selected refugees from the target direct beneficiaries, to learn more about what they think can provide the most market opportunity and restore self-reliance. Our implementing team will be empowered through training, development of curriculum, and working with other partners to develop publications that will help improve teachers' capacity of delivery. Training will maintain a special focus on entrepreneurship skills, literacy, as well as numeracy in order to enable the refugees enter into the business market soon after completing their training.


Since creation of SAVIC (Solidarity & Advocacy with Vulnerable Individuals in Crisis) in September 2010, we have been working close with the UNHCR and different agencies operating in Kakuma. We are very grateful to gain UNHCR approval for us to run our activities as a refugee-run local NGO, which made it possible for our organization to be Registered by the Government of Kenya. We have had active partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council's Skills for Life Project in Kakuma, Lutheran World Federation - Education Unit Kakuma, the National Council of Churches of Kenya - RH Project Kakuma. The Refugee Consortium of Kenya also offered much support to us by talking to our students about human rights. Majority of our members and volunteers are refugees from DR Congo, South-Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, and Uganda, who understand better the conditions and needs of the camp.

SKILL SHARE (optional)

As a result of war that and instabilities that have torn my country (DR. Congo) since 1996, I have been in Kakuma since 2010, where I have been actively involved as a literacy trainer, an English teacher, and of course as the Chief Executive of my local NGO, SAVIC. I would greatly appreciate for feedback on how to promote my idea into a more tangible program that can be achieved at low cost. I also hope to receive partnership and capacity building support to maximize the impact of this idea.


I'm Muzabel Welongo, from Sud-Kivu, D.R.C, and live in Kenya as a refugee since 2010. I am doing a BA in Economics at the Catholic University of EA, Nairobi. I am the founder and Chief Executive of SAVIC, a local NGO which promotes basic literacy and reproductive health among young people in Kakuma.


  • Yes, I have implementation capacity and am interested in and able to make this idea real in my community.


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Photo of Vestine Umubyeyi

Hello Muzabel, the impact of this idea in communities where it started is very interesting and I wish to see the project implemented in the whole camp because in that case many children will not have to leave school in order to help parents earn their living. Thank you, Vestine.

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