We continue to see an alarming increase in the number of people displaced from their homes around the world. So it is more and more important to strengthen communities to withstand the upheaval and loss that accompanies displacement. While new conflicts hit the headlines, there are millions who have been displaced for decades and are forgotten.
The REI mission to focus on the long-term benefits for people living in the protracted, forgotten crises means we can make a big impact with small investments.
We talk regularly to our partners on the ground to learn about the current challenges and how they are building more independence in the communities.
The addiction program on the Thailand - Myanmar border has seen increased numbers in their clinics and the teams have handled the increased numbers efficiently. This demonstrates that they have been empowered through previous programs and are spreading their knowledge and skills to others in the community.
The students at Karenni Social Development Center have been working with the Internal Displacement (IDP) camp mentioned in a previous report with good results. The IDPs can disseminate their learning through those who can return to their villages and resist the pressures of the soldiers who are recruiting workers against their will.
The teachers of the kindergarten in Lebanon continue their training in psycho-social skills to support students who are badly affected by the uncertainty of their lives. One five-year-old boy was displaying unusual behaviour – he avoided eye contact and was aggressive with other students. Through agreement with the child’s parents, the psychologist assigned a shadow teacher to work with the student. He resisted the presence of the shadow teacher at first but things gradually began to improve until the student became more disciplined and less aggressive with others. He graduated in 2022 and has gone on to elementary school in Lebanon.
Thank you for continuing to support on the path to less dependence.
Our mission to provide support to refugee and IDP communities through empowerment strengthens communities to withstand the abuses and challenges they face.
Understanding one’s rights and the law of the land are essential to building a stronger resistance. We have seen the results of this through alumni from the Karenni Social Development Center (KSDC). Graduates go on to work with the camp community as well as returning to their home villages to spread awareness and organise civil action. We are starting to see positive results as social services are being re-established by the local community in some parts of Karenni state where the national government is failing to deliver.
Our recent funding to the KSDC included support to an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp near the Thai border. By working in the IDP camp, the KSDC team will be able to reach more people as they provide training on legal rights and human rights.
It is evident that the Karenni Social Development Center has become a vital program for the advancement of the Karenni community. Alumni are active in Karenni towns and villages, showing good leadership and contributing to a future democratic government in Myanmar. Over the past two decades, the Social Development Center has become one of the primary Karenni organizations sowing the seeds of social change in Karenni State and Myanmar.
One alumni said: "My study was especially helpful in preparing me for a leadership role. Due to this study, I am able to implement my activities, successfully and with confidence. I have shared the knowledge and experience I have learned from this school with predominantly women and the youth as much as I can. I have participated in the social services to do this. Also for the women’s role, I organise for women’s programs and education for women. Additionally, I have made photographic and video documentation."
Refugee Empowerment International (REI) is proud to support programs like KSDC that make a lasting impact on many people’s lives. We are a small organisation with a long reach. Thank you for supporting REI.
In a previous report we told you about an income generation project we funded for the Addiction Treatment and Education program on the Thai-Myanmar border.
The Moringaid project set up a small business selling Moringa Powder both locally and internationally.
Moringa is a tree that grows in that area and people use the leaves to supplement their food. It is high in protein, iron, B vitamins and many other vitamins and minerals. It is also high in antioxidants and is hailed by those interested in maximum health. It is popular around the world, known locally in the tropics as a traditional food and known internationally as a SuperFood.
The project not only provides some income to the addiction program but also creates opportunities for local land owners to grow Moringa and receive payment. This is an important factor in the project as working with the local community establishes goodwill, contributes to the local economy and improves relations with the host community.
The Moringaid team processes the leaves into powder and powder capsules and sells the product online both locally and internationally.
In the first year the project made a small profit and is now self-sustaining.
The income does not cover all the costs of the addiction treatment and community program through 5 camps and inside Myanmar and we continue to fund their community work. However, it covers some shortfalls in funding for the addiction treatment cycles as some donors are re-directing their funds to other crises around the world.
Thank you for continuing to support our work as we focus on the forgotten communities around the globe.
Refugees have little freedom of movement at the best of times but with the restrictions imposed during the COVID pandemic this has been more difficult. We are proud to note that the impact of previous funding has made a significant impact on how the teams can operate in this time. Day passes, delivery of materials and access for visitors has meant supplementary activities cannot be pursued but project leaders have made good use of skills and resources available to them to continue the programmes. Alumni have been empowered through the programmes and can share their learning with others.
Participants in the Nairobi job creation programme that received new funding in 2021 have successfully completed some of the training and are starting their new businesses. One 21-year old beneficiary who enrolled in the catering class, is now making buns and selling to a friend who has a burger business. With the profit she makes, she can cover small family expenses. Another woman of 23 enrolled in the hairdressing class and set up a blow dry and gel service for local clients. As she gained a good reputation, other salons in the area asked her to work with them.
Clients who have participated in the 90-day treatment programme for addiction on the Thai-Myanmar continue to move on to become community workers and they are visiting households in the camp to talk about their experience and how it has changed their lives. While vaccination take up is slow, the cases of infection from the coronavirus have been relatively low and home visits can proceed. One family member of a client who had received the 90-day treatment said “We got back peace and rebuilt home sweet home in our family. The treatment center have a lot of benefit for addicted people and also other people who never been use drug, alcohol in their life time.”
Classes on leadership training, care of the environment and legal rights in the Social Development Center for Karenni youth on the Thai-Myanmar border are continuing. While they are not able to leave the camp to do computer training or go on field visits, they are concentrating on environmental issues within the camp and learning from alumni working in the camp.
We are grateful for your support to projects that empower refugees and IDPs to become role models in their communities.
Beneficiaries in the projects we fund continue to show amazing resilience despite the continuing challenges. The projects we fund are all in protracted crises where there is little hope of returning home.
We are encouraged to hear of stories about those who have benefited from projects being able to give back to their community and enable others to gain a degree of independence.
On the Thai-Myanmar border most of the camps are in lock-down due to the COVID pandemic but projects continue through the leadership of project graduates.
Two stories demonstrate this ripple effect.
One student who graduated from Karenni Social Development Center (KSDC) having studied Human Rights, Environment, and Rule of Law went on to be a teacher at KSDC. He says “I will take what I have learned in this school and I will help my community as I can. I will go inside Karenni State and give awareness training to the people”. He meets with community leaders who have power or responsibility, providing awareness training to help others. He continued: “Now, in our Karenni society, most of the people know about human rights, environment, and rule of law because of our work. Now that I have learned about this, I'm going to share my knowledge with my community people who do not know it.”
A young mother living in Karen state, Myanmar has had to move several times as soldiers ransack villages. She received a baby kit through the Maternal Health project and learnt how to care for herself and her children. She said: She said “I am very happy that I joined the awareness raising session and I can share this information with other women so that it will help other babies. There are still stereotypes in our community, which will need constant health awareness raising to reduce this kind of wrong thinking.“
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