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Refugee-led NGO Transforms Livelihoods and SRH Education among Refugee Youth in Kenya and Beyond

For over a decade, Resilience Action International (RAI) has been transforming the lives of refugee youth.

“Our mission is to empower refugee youth to live to their full potential by increasing opportunities for education, productive livelihoods, and access to reproductive health services,”

said Director of Programs

Uwezo Ramadhani.

Founded in 2010 by Muzabel Welongo – a refugee in Kakuma Refugee Camp – the organization began as an informal, peer-to-peer language learning group designed to strengthen refugees’ English language skills, which was required for many employment opportunities in the camp.

Resilience Action International (RAI) group photo

In 2014, the small group evolved into a community-based organization with an expanded reach and role, as demand for job training opportunities grew. Creating partnerships and fundraising channels became a central role of the organization during this time. Continuing to expand in 2016 and now offering sexual and reproductive health resources, the organization formally registered as an NGO. Currently, RAI has three full-time staff members and a team of 45 full-time refugee volunteers who receive stipends.

Based in Kenya and also operating in Tanzania, RAI focuses on three programming areas:

  1. Sexual and reproductive health
  2. Education
  3. Entrepreneurship and development

SRH programming, said Ramadhani, consists of informal, peer education groups of 15-25 young people that convene at schools and community centers. Youth educators offer accurate, culturally sensitive, and relevant information regarding SRHR to their peers. RAI also provides confidential counseling and contraceptive supplies to young people.

Ramadhani recognized that girls and women during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, are “facing significant barriers in accessing essential [SRH] information” and young people “are knocking at our doors seeking SRH services.”

To creatively meet this demand, RAI piloted a series of podcasts designed to communicate key SRH messages. The podcasts are part of an entirely remote, SRH education approach that RAI is continuing to explore and develop.

The education and entrepreneurial resources RAI offers include apprenticeships, soft skills sessions, certification short courses, a start-up incubator, and small grant opportunities. These program areas, combined with RAI’s SRH programming, encourage refugee youth “first by having agency over one’s own body and reproductive health and second, by pursuing education and livelihood activities to achieve economic independence.”

Importantly, Ramadhani shared that RAI’s “priorities are determined by the refugee communities it serves,” and the organization is lead exclusively by “current and former refugees.”

RAI invites you to follow their work on their http://www.resilienceaction.ne...and Instagram @resilienceaction.

Sexual and reproductive health services remain critical during COVID-19

IAWG members and partners are producing clinical and programmatic guidance, assessments, policy papers, and statements to ensure continued prioritization of sexual and reproductive health and rights throughout COVID-19 response in humanitarian settings.