The Other 1 Percent - Refugee Student Delegation
Refugee Student Leaders at the World Refugee Day Event 2019, Berlin
Sustainable solutions to education in refugee situations are best developed in cooperation with all stakeholders, including refugee students themselves.
Therefore, a principle feature of the conference ‘The Other 1 Percent’ will be the attendance of a delegation of 22 students and alumni from DAFI, Connected Learning, HOPES and LfS programmes around the world. The students will play an active role in the events throughout the week of World Refugee Day, speaking of their experiences, providing commentary at the photo exhibition, and interacting with academic, government, public and donor attendees. Their diverse backgrounds, experiences and inspiring initiatives will increase the richness and the context of the conference.
© UNHCR/Antoine Tardy
Ella Ininahazwe, 26, is a graduate of Health Care Management and works as a Refugee College Guidance Counselor with the organization Kepler in Rwanda, and Southern New Hampshire University in Kenya (Kakuma refugee camp). Originally from Burundi, Ella came to Rwanda in 2015.
While studying with Kepler in Kigali, Ella was invited to attend and deliver a speech at Mobile Learning Week in Paris with UNHCR. That was how she first ventured into advocating for refugee education, later becoming a Refugee College Guidance Counselor with Kepler. “Refugees face a lot of barriers”, Ella explains. “Before and after graduation. We assist them with tackling all the challenges”.
As a Guidance Counselor, Ella is responsible for managing Kepler’s scholar preparation programmes throughout Rwanda, developing the curriculum for teacher assistants, and supporting refugee students before, during and after their studies.
Ella is determined to increase the number of refugee youth who can access higher education, especially girls and young women.
Conducting preparatory trainings for aspiring students, Ella observed the array of barriers in the way of girls’ education, and supported her students to overcome them. “When I see their success, I am so proud”, Ella says, adding that being open to her students and ready to learn from their struggles and unique experiences is a big factor in her work being impactful.
Currently, Ella and her colleague Sadiki are working on establishing an Africa-wide network of refugee college guidance counselors, including development of the training curriculum and teaching material. In doing this, Ella and Sadiki are breaking new ground.
Ella is motivated by seeing the impact her work has. “You feel like you are doing something great, when you see a smile on someone else’s face”.
Ehab Badwi is 26 years old and a student of Economics, Politics, and Social Thought with a focus on Peacebuilding and Youth Participation at Bard College Berlin. He was one of the Key informants for the research project "The Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security". Originally from Syria, Ehab arrived in Germany as a refugee in 2015.
Having had obtained a diploma in Mechanical Engineering in Syria, Ehab was able to further pursue his education in Germany through online courses offered by Kiron, an NGO providing open access to education for refugees through digital solutions. He then went on to enroll at Bard College in Berlin, and expects to graduate in 2022 with a degree in Political Science.
A strong believer in the potential of youth, Ehab serves as president of the Syrian Youth Assembly, a global network of young Syrians.
The organization, founded by Ehab, has over 200.000 members and aims to mobilize young Syrians to build a peaceful future for Syria.
In addition to that, the platform provides free access to online courses, equipping its members with valuable skills and competences.
Ehab is eager to share his vision for peace through education and engagement with fellow students and other stakeholders in higher education for refugees, emphasizing the need to involve all parts of society in the peacebuilding process, including youth.
© UNHCR/Jean-Marc Ferré
Safia Ibrahimkhel is a 25-year-old student of Political Science. She was born to an Afghan family in a refugee camp in Pakistan.
Safia completed high school in Peshawar, graduating with a major in Political Science and Sociology. She went on to study Political Science at the University of Peshawar.
Starting from a young age, Safia has been eagerly engaged in activities serving the community. “One day on my way from school, I noticed a group pf street children”, Safia recalls. She approached them to offer free schooling with her as a teacher at her home. Safia’s offer was thankfully accepted, and soon her classes were growing.
Later, Safia began reaching out to women in rural settings with peace-building and extremism-awareness trainings. She strongly believes in women’s often overlooked potential to positively affect change in society.
Moreover, Safia is a member of UNHCR’s Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC), which serves as a consultative group on issues relating to the protection and development of young people who are refugees, internally displaced and/or stateless, and their communities.
In her role as GYAC Youth Delegate, Safia wants to take advantage of the opportunity for direct dialogue with key stakeholders in the international community on refugee issues. She advocates especially for adolescent girls and young women. Safia envisages the work of the GYAC within UNHCR contributing to peace, sustainability and development opportunities. She advocates for peace and security for all displaced people through ensuring access to legal documentation, and actively involving women and girls in peace-building processes.
In the future, Safia sees herself in politics: “As a Minister for Foreign Affairs in Afghanistan, I want to be a bridge between two nations and work towards peaceful coexistence.”
Sadiki Bamperineza, 28, is a graduate of Communication with a focus on Business. He works as Refugee College Guidance Counselor with the organization Kepler in Rwanda. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sadiki came to Rwanda in 1996.
After graduating from secondary school in 2011, Sadiki began working as a Geography and English teacher at the secondary school in Kiziba refugee settlement, for which he had helped to set up the upper level. “In Kiziba, we were only having an ordinary level secondary school, but students had to go out of the camp to complete secondary school. I played a role in a group of young graduates by starting upper secondary school in the camp”, Sadiki explains.
In 2015, Sadiki was selected to start a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with the organization Kepler, an INGO that provides students in East Africa with access to international degrees by partnering with accredited online offerings that lead to a US accredited Bachelor’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University.
Sadiki earned his Bachelor’s degree in 2018 and now works as a Refugee College Guidance Counselor with Kepler. Together with colleague Ella, Sadiki mentors young refugees to access information, overcome barriers and develop the necessary skills to start and successfully finish higher education programmes, ultimately aiming to increase the number of refugees with access to higher education.
After having finished his yearlong fellowship with WISE Learners Voice Program, Sadiki and his colleague Charlotte Evans from the USA started developing a digital guidance platform that enables potential students to reach higher by combining technology with human resources. The platform will consist three modules: information about current higher education opportunities, the possibility to connect with a guidance counselor that can advise on eligibility, as well as information and guidance on legal implications.
Apart from his work as a counselor, Sadiki is a firm believer in the power of music. As a volunteer, he teaches musical instruments and plays free concerts for the residents of Kiziba refugee settlement: “Music can remove sadness and give hope.”
Foni Joyce Vuni
© UNHCR/Jean-Marc Ferré
Foni Joyce Vuni
Foni Joyce Vuni, 27, whose parents fled from conflict in Sudan to Kenya in 1991, is a graduate of Mass Communication with a major in Public Relations.
After finishing her primary and secondary education, Foni became an apprentice with an organization that involves refugees in making crafts and artworks.
In 2012, she won a DAFI scholarship to pursue an undergraduate degree at Kenyatta University. The university, where Foni interacted with fellow students, served as a first platform for her to challenge existing negative preconceptions about refugees. Foni believes that interaction and education is crucial to promoting peace and appreciation of cultural diversity.
By becoming the co-chair of UNHCR’s Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC) and the focal point for education, Foni further ventured into advocacy. In 2018, she represented South Sudanese refugees at high-level peace talks held in Khartoum. “I function as a link between the refugees and the people at the table”, Foni elaborates.
Together with a Kenyan friend, Foni founded the community-based YEMI Initiative (YEMI in Swahili roughly translates to “You are me, and I am you”).
YEMI’s aim is to enable the local community and especially youth to realize and utilize their potential. “We show them how to use what they have to get what they need”, Foni explains. “We want to create a culture of empowerment”. YEMI counsels, mentors, and inspires through mentorship programmes, career talks and panel discussions. YEMI now consists of a core team of 5 people and 9 occasional volunteers.
In the future, Foni plans to continue advocating for refugees while furthering her education with a Master’s degree. Her ultimate goal is to return to South Sudan to actively participate in peace building and development. “The way you react to a conflict is crucial”, Foni says. “If you are able to see yourself in someone, you see they are a human being too. I am you, and you are me.”