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Empowered to Compete Internationally!

Rhoda Asilik Daniel, a 25 years old Sudanese grew up in a very humble background. Being forced to leave her country due to civil war, she managed to escape with her grandmother, leaving behind her parents. The journey was difficult for them because they were forced to climb hills and mountains, hide in thickets, and sleep on empty stomachs for the sake of their lives. They were lucky to be rescued by policemen and with the help of UNHCR, arrived at Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2012. They lived at the refugee reception center until January 2013, when they were given space to put up a house.

Life in the refugee camp was tough for Rhodah and her grandmother. This largely affected her grandmother forcing her to go back to her country, leaving Rhodah behind. Rhodah then resorted to looking for her tribe’s mate and was lucky to find an elderly woman who accommodated her in Kalobeyei Resettlement.

Having attained primary school education in Sudan, Rhoda was lucky to go through secondary school education in the camp. Her hardworking nature and passion for education secured her employment as an incentive primary school teacher in the camp, working with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Rhoda progressed in her career and is currently working with Finn Church Aid as a teacher and acting assistant deputy incentive in Kalobeyei Settlement Primary School.

As a teacher, Rhoda has a high interest in digital skills and enrolled for various technological courses offered by Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) in June 2019. At AAH-I, Rhoda gained skills in 3D Printing and 3D graphic design for the printing of innovative plastic models such as phone covers and key holders among other skills. In September 2019, she was among the beneficiaries of the Microsoft Digital Literacy training program, a program offered by UNCHR in partnership with AAHI and funded by UNWOMEN. She trained on the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) certificate course for six months and completed the modules and graduated in June 2020.

I am grateful for the Digital Skills offered by Action Africa Help International (AAH-I). ICDL has opened doors for the refugee community especially women and young girls to gain a standardized certificate course offered at the international level. The training has been of great benefit to me even though I am in a marginalized community. The skills gained will enable me to grow my career and also train others on how to effectively use a computer system. I am looking forward to continuing with the advanced ICDL certificate courses”.

With a dream to become a social worker and nutrition consultant, Rhoda has already completed an online course in Nutrition and Diet- Revised course from Alison online course platform. She is looking forward to advancing her skills in ICDL and be able to apply the skills in securing an online, working for any organization in the world.    

A Youthful Congolese, Hand-Held to Start and Grow a Handcraft Business in Kakuma!

He was only 22 when he arrived in Nairobi in January 2019 from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on invitation by his late father’s friend, an urban refugee based in Kenya. In March 2019, Espoir joined a Kenyan owned small beadwork company at Kasarani, in Nairobi for training on beadwork. In October 2019, UNHCR transferred him to Kakuma Camp. Espoir was not unique to the challenges faced by the Refugees in the camp. After exhausting the money, he had made in Nairobi, he went through rough times financially and one-time contemplated sneaking back to Nairobi in search of greener pastures.

Espoir in his shop

However, he decided to approach his Kenyan friend in Kasarani and successfully negotiated tools and stock of beads. Having heard about AAH-I’s Business Incubation Project, he visited the offices and his visit to AAH-I bore fruits since he was among those that successfully joined the business incubator. He was awarded one of the affordable business stalls funded by UNHCR, where he put up a small beadwork business. 

On admission to the incubator, he was assisted to utilize his meager resources on optimizing his business opportunities. He began with zero number of staff, working full time on his own but in just six months of one on one business coaching and monitoring, he has grown his revenues, stock, and fixed assets. He has also recruited 8 youths to work for him in his recently opened 5 outlets.

In a nutshell, his micro business has grown from a fledgling enterprise to a fast-growing profitable and potential SME soon. Named “Kakuma Handcrafts”, Espoir’s business is now one of the most sought-after producers and sellers of beaded necklaces, bangles, earrings, and belts. While most of the bead’s products in the Kakuma market are largely produced in the colors of flags of various nations. He has managed to differentiate his products from the rest by use of beads with alphabetical letters inscribed on them.

  “I see myself in the next 2-3 years running my own company here in Kakuma with various distinct production lines. I will personally be at the helm managing it rather than getting actively involved in the actual production as is the case now” he said. 

Clients visiting Espoir’s shop

Espoir’s goal is to acquire the prerequisite shoe-making skills from them for the planned future production of blended Maasai sandals with beads to further grow his profits especially, in the current challenging business climate. He also looks at the leather industry with a lot of admiration.

Asked about his experience in the business incubator, his response was simple, “I owe everything I am today to AAH-I business incubation project”.

Skills for resilient youths

I am grateful for the Digital Skills offered by Action Africa Help International (AAHI). ICDL has open doors for the refugee community especially women and young girls to gain a standardized certificate course offered at the international level. The skills gained will enable me to grow my career as a teacher, develop a database for my school store, and enable me to access online jobs which will improve my standard of living by having an extra income.

“International Computer Driving License (ICDL) has empowered me and opened opportunities to occasionally document reports in my workplace. Learning digital skills has enabled me to seek online services like buying items. This will also enable me to compete for online jobs and improve my standard of living.” Aneta Idiongo

I have always desired to gain skills in graphic design to enable me to build content to support organizations conducting effective advertisements considering I have a background on public relations. Joining Tech for livelihoods has enabled me to gain skills in graphic design and basic skills in Web Design. With the skills attained, I am anticipating to gain linkages to online jobs, improve livelihoods, and live a dignified life. Acquiring skills is a continuous learning process.

Denied justice, now thriving in the business incubator

Sabiti Amisi Maobi, a 32-year-old father of two, is a victim of denied justice. In 2016, Amisi was forced to flee his home country Congo, after involvement in an accident. He had accidentally knocked down a woman to death with his bicycle and was sought after for revenge by the deceased family members who wanted to kill him and all his family members. Although Amisi and his wife survived the killing attempts having gone to hiding, his father was killed, and his mother internally displaced to a place she could not be traced. His efforts to seek justice proved futile as the government went silent on the matter. Fearing for his life and that of his wife, it dawned on him that he had to seek refuge.  That’s how Amisi together with his wife fled to Kakuma Refugee Camp with the help of UNHCR.

Amisi, who currently resides in Kalobeyei, is not unique to the challenges faced by other refugees in the camp such as harsh climate change and culture shock due to interactions with people from different nationalities among others. With the need to supplement what was given to them by UNHCR, Amisi and his wife had to engage in manual jobs. where they saved the money earned with a vision to start a retail business that was not popular in the area which he established in 2017.

In 2019, he was among the selected Businesses Incubates by AAHI where, besides gaining skills to enhance his business, he was awarded a loan to expand his business. With the money, he increased stock of the business which eventually led to an increase in the number of customers he receives. Amisi testifies of having increased income with a stable business, readily serving the community in Kalobeyei Village.  Additionally, Amisi has created employment for other people, whom he pays daily.

“My dream is to invest more in the business and create more branches in Kalobeyei and Kakuma,” Amisi concludes.          

Applying digital skills to earn a living

Ojullu Ochalla Okwaya is an Ethiopian by nationality. He left Ethiopia in 2004 after the massive massacre of his tribe’s men. His family suffered much trying to find a rescue to a safer environment. They managed to get a police escort to Dadaab refugee camp. Ojullu grew up in Dadaab Refugee Camp gaining educational skills at the elementary level and completed the primary level of education in 2010. Excelling in studies, he was sponsored by a well-wisher to gain a secondary level of education in Nairobi at Joram G.M Academy Secondary School in Ngong. Through this, Ojullu got an opportunity to study various subjects and computer was his favorite subject. He completed his high school level of education in 2014. Thereafter, he went back to his family in Dadaab and was employed with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) as an interpreter due to his ability to communicate in both English, Kiswahili, Arabic, and in their mother tongue.

During resettlement, his family was relocated to Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement. Adjusting to the new environment was not easy because he was no longer in employment and had to survive on the alms offered to the refugees. Access to food, household, and medical service was difficult because the settlement was still under establishment and most refugees were surviving on the little resources they had. Through a well-wisher, Ojullu received educational support to study the Supplies and Procurement course in Lodwar. He completed the course and began doing business to gain funds to support his family, although the business did not pick up. He then returned to his parents ’home in Kalobeyei.  

In March 2020, Ojullu was among the successful applicants to join the Tech for Livelihood program offered by Action Africa Help International (AAHI); to gain digital skills for online jobs. Receiving training in graphic design using CorelDraw has changed his way of thinking and is hoping to use the skills not only for online working but also in designing flyers and banners for various organizations.

I am passionate about advancing with the changing technology. AAHI has given me an opportunity to pursue my dream in gaining digital skills for online jobs. I enjoy learning new skills and through the Tech for Livelihood program, I hope to more gain skills that will enable me work online and improve my standard of living” Ojulu Ochalla Okwaya

Ojullu’s has developed strong interest in graphic design and is currently doing using graphic design to develop a flyer for a photo studio in Kalobeyei village.