RAI is soliciting donations to purchase a staff vehicle, computers, and tailoring machines in order to increase the number of job training courses it can safely provide to refugees. The organization’s leaders also dream of expanding its future reach by building additional centers in the camp.
2 October 2020
By Delaney Wehn
The Tarach River, sometimes referred to by locals as “The Sleeping Giant,” ambles through the center of Kakuma refugee camp. During the drier months, the river’s wide shores are accompanied by cool breezes, women fetching water, and children playing on its sands. But when heavy rains fall on Kakuma, the Tarach River overflows with flash flooding, wildly roaring to life and threatening to drown those that approach it.
Unfortunately, these flash floods pose a major obstacle to Resilience Action International. On days of heavy rain, RAI staff and students cannot safely cross the Tarach River and therefore physically cannot attend their courses. This presents a major interruption to classroom instruction and the carefully planned curriculums that are offered by RAI. Amar Ibrahim, Program Coordinator for RAI’s Livelihood Department, noted that RAI could improve this situation and avoid attendance variability if it received donations to purchase a vehicle for staff, which would make travel during heavy rains much safer.
Beyond a roaring river, there are many other challenges that RAI must constantly work to overcome on its path to promoting economic and social empowerment. First and foremost, the demand for RAI’s courses greatly outweighs its capacity. “RAI is trying to do capacity building with equipment,” said Ibrahim, “Because the demand for our services is high compared to the resources we have.” For example, RAI had 75 applicants for its latest tailoring course, but it could only accept 35 students. These students now share the 20 tailoring machines that RAI has to offer.
A similar situation faces RAI’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) course. Due to a lack of equipment, the nonprofit’s 28 ICT students complete their coursework by sharing 21 computers. As evidenced by the course application numbers, refugees at Kakuma refugee camp are eager to build their skills and enroll in RAI’s life-changing Livelihood courses, but a lack of financial resources and equipment limits RAI’s ability to meet the swelling demand for these services. “We are just hoping that we can get more equipment to be able to cater to the demand of the community,” Ibrahim aptly noted.
RAI’s Small Business Startup course works to teach refugees the skills needed to build businesses and ultimately rely on themselves for financial means. “Economic empowerment is key for refugees,” said Ibrahim, and for this reason RAI admirably aims to provide all Small Business Startup graduates with seed grants to launch their own business endeavors upon course completion. Today, RAI’s Livelihoods team is actively fundraising to meet this goal, but funds remain limited.
While the most pressing need at RAI is to address the limited quantity of machines and seed grants available, the organization’s leaders dream of expanding RAI’s physical presence in the future. RAI currently occupies just one small compound in one section of Kakuma refugee camp, but Kakuma is a sprawling development with four completely distinct areas and over 60,000 occupants. As a result, RAI’s presence is limited to just one of these four regions, while other nonprofits have the resources needed to serve the entire camp. “People travel a far distance to get to our center,” explained Ibrahim, adding that “sometimes people come but they get discouraged if there is not space.” If fortunate enough to receive adequate funds for expansion, RAI would build not just new centers but also help build new and improved lives for refugees in need.
Please consider donating today at https://www.resilienceaction.net/donate to help Resilience Action International build its capacity to help Kakuma youth reach economic empowerment. Every dollar makes a difference.