NakivArt was started as a project in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement by a group of refugees under the lead of Patrick and Raphael Muvunga and Victor Turatsinze. They feld the Democratic Republic of Congo and have lived in the settlement for many years. Since 2015 they used art as a form for trauma healing for the children and youth of the camp, giving a space to draw, play, exchange, learn together and express themselves. Patrick, Raphael and Victor were invited to become scholars at the Social Innovation Academy (SINA), founded by Etienne Salborn from Germany, who is living in Uganda since 2006.
The Social Innovation Academy (SINA) is giving marginalized youth in Uganda an environment where they become social entrepreneurs and turn around their tragic life stories into catalysts for social change. At SINA the NakivArt-Team experienced and impersonated the unique SINA culture of empowerment and collaboration, while also having gone through training and have learned how to conduct trainings. They went through trainings for unlearning limiting believes and identifying opportunities with and for communities. They have experienced coaching for personal growth and unleashing potentials and have specialized in learning coaching techniques to be able to coach others and train others on the basics of coaching. They have further specialized in training and facilitation tools and are able to hold sessions empowering other youth and allow them to drive their own education. In early 2016 Etienne Salborn met Abhijit Sinha in Kampala, who is the founder of Project DEFY in India. They quickly realized that they have to work together, bearing a similar vision of transforming education giving the power to the people in order to drive their own curricula and create opportunities and jobs for themselves.
Project DEFY has successfully proven that is possible for youth to create and run their own learning spaces, where they design their own education and learn by developing projects out of interest. It has established two such spaces, that they call Nooks, in India. SINA has created an empowerment model which has shown remarkable success in allowing marginalized and disadvantaged youth to transform their lives and become social entrepreneurs. The NakivArt SINA scholars have taken on this model into the refugee settlement and started to make it their own.
In October 2016, SINA supported NakivArt to build a house out of plastic bottles with the community of refugees in Nakivale. The space was finished on October 20th. On October 21st Etienne, Abhijit, Patrick Raphael, Victor and the NakivArt team of refugees all came together in Nakivale to start a first prototype of the self-organized learning space. The Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda, who is in charge of Refugees in the country granted us permission to get started within Nakivale. OPPORTUNIGEE was set up on the land belonging to Patrick and Raphael. The response by the refugees was enormous and over 50 young refugees came to the space since the first day. The refugees have different nationalities and come from different backgrounds and religions but they share, learn, teach and create together, male and female alike.
OPPORTUNIGEE is an innovation because a self-organized entrepreneurship hub within a refugee camp does not exist anywhere and it allows the youth to design their own education and create their own economic opportunities.
Possibilities to go to school or take part in any kind or education or opportunities are almost non-existent in the refugee camp. The youth has an enormous drive to be able to sustain themselves, generate income and create a dignified life by themselves, but the settlement only provides them with a small piece of land and the UNHRC hands out food rations. Many wait for resettlement to other countries but the chances are almost zero. Uganda treats refugees as a problem, who need to be controlled and isolated from the rest of the society. Yet the young refugees have dreams and untapped talent. They lack the opportunities to unleash their potentials.
OPPORTUNIGEE is here to change this. Ever since we started in late October 2016, we received many visitors from international aid agencies to the Office of the Prime Minister and the UNHCR, who have been impressed with our initiative. We therefore decided to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise more funds to sustain ourselves also in 2017 and take the first prototype to the next level for us refugees to create our own opportunities and jobs.
“When a flower doesn't bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” - Alexander Den Heijer