“Over the last 25 years, the internet and mobile communications have transformed life in the industrialized and the developing world. Now that information is so freely available, we worry more about overload than scarcity. Mobile communications and social media provide an ever-expanding variety of ways to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Cloud computing, remote working and networked global teams are re-shaping the way that we interact and connect.
Not so for the world of refugees. Today, more than 65 million people – the largest number in decades are living as refugees or are internally displaced, uprooted from their homes in search of safety, and often struggling to access the basic means of survival. But displaced people are also living without the connectivity they need to obtain vital information, communicate with loved ones, access basic services and to link to the local, national and global communities around them. The locations in which they live frequently lack digital networks and infrastructure, or the connectivity that is available there is too expensive. The digital revolution transforming the world is leaving refugees behind.
A connected refugee population can also play a critical role in enabling organizations such as UNHCR to innovate effectively and to improve the quality of services that we provide. Connectivity has the potential to transform how we communicate, the way in which we respond to the protection needs of displaced people, and our delivery of humanitarian services. Most significantly, better connectivity can promote self-reliance by broadening the opportunities for refugees to improve their own lives. Access to the internet and mobile telephone services has the potential to create a powerful multiplier effect, boosting the well-being of refugees and of the communities that host them”. Said; Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Through the similar context under UNHCR Mandate with Its implementing partner (Prison Fellowship Rwanda), We are witnessing the successful achievements of Digital Career Counselors project that graduated 32 Youth Persons of Concerns (PoCs) from 6 refugee camps namely Mahama, Kigeme, Mugombwa, Nyabiheke, Kiziba and Nkamira. These Youth PoCs are supporting & serving their fellow PoCs through Job applications, scholarship applications, teaching them on how to write Motivation letters, CVs, Interviews, registering birth certificates, certificates of celibacy, marriage certificates, retrieving lost documents, opening emails, computer trainings, Irembo services from the GoR Portals, scanning, laminating and printing services.
After 2 days field visit in Huye, Mugombwa and Kigeme refugee camps, Nyiramugwaneza Yvonne, the PFR/UNHCR Project Manager said, “We were worried about the sustainability of this project after three months, but fortunately we are impressed with the tremendous effort, time sacrifice, ambitions and achievements, the Digital Career Counselors (DCC) have manifested so far relating to the target results towards supporting their fellow PoCs and the host community with in the shortest possible time”.
For example, the DCCs in Kigeme refugee camp are currently on a level of consulting the concerned parties such as PFR, UNHCR & GoR seeking to know whether they can register their business services as a legal business entity/company in order to compete for relevant service provision around the nearby host community entities such as hospitals, schools and so forth.
Murwanashyaka Tumusifu Christian a DCC Representative in Kigeme refugee Camp, said; “Although We are progressing well so far, there are some challenges and hinderances that need to be addressed for the sustainability of our project in order to be effective and efficient in our service delivery; some of the challenges we generally encounter during this project implementation are lack of Camera, office furniture, high speed internet , permanent office, another computer, software and accessories.
In a way of addressing some of these challenges, the Digital Career Counselors are currently charging minimum fair prices for the offered services towards their fellow PoCs and the host community which gives hope to sustain and smoothly run their project through the small savings and generated incomes from the business.
Conclusionary, we quoted Ntambara Emmanuel the Community based protection officer based in Kigeme refugee Camp saying “The ultimate success of this project will be achieved if all the DCC from the 6 refugee camps are putting more effort, time and applying home grown solutions to the encountered challenges as we believe the community serve has to have a stake in their social economic development since this projects complies with the Rwandan government policies of digitalizing all services for easy access to all”.
Watch the related video from PFR’s Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jK0tpSujpU