Posted by josefine
Jul 8 19
How simply downloading an app can transform a refugee’s life
At REFUNITE, we never stop looking for new solutions to help improve the lives of refugees and displaced people. Our mission, first and foremost, is to empower these people. Our family tracing platform allows refugees to take the search for missing loved ones into their own hands, using only their mobile phone or computer. However, we wondered what other daily needs these people had and if there was anything we could do to help. Many of the refugees and host community members we speak to mention difficulties surrounding employment. In a new place, with no official paperwork or legal recognition, it can be extremely difficult for refugees to find work. Even when they do, they are often exploited. A refugee in Uganda, for example, earns no more than $2 per day. REFUNITE recognised the need for safe, flexible employment opportunities that could allow refugees to begin rebuilding their lives. In…
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Posted by josefine
Mar 14 19
“We can tell them there is hope as long as REFUNITE can enable them to search for their families”
REFUNITE’s community network building project is tackling is how to reach offline, illiterate, and disenfranchised refugee populations with life-enhancing information. Women, elderly, and other vulnerable groups are often hard to reach with messages and information that could transform their lives. REFUNITE’s community network building project sets out to change this imbalance. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a community leader is someone with high status within a local society. The population looks up to their leader and consults with him or her to get solutions to their problems of any kind: conflicts, health, marriage, education, finances, and even spiritual challenges. Marcellin Biriko is one of them. Marcellin Biriko is a community leader with over 7,000 constituents. He lives in Goma,the capital city of North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu. Marcellin became a part of REFUNITE’s community leader…
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Posted by josefine
Feb 20 19
“REFUNITE helped me save the lives of my people through its Community Leader Network”
Community members receiving messages via REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network and connected SMS platform REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network is a peer-to-peer network that tackles how to reach offline, illiterate, and disenfranchised refugee populations with life-enhancing information. Today, REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network is a network of more than 4000 tribal community leaders spread across 100 refugee communities worldwide that REFUNITE works with to communicate with and mobilize last-mile populations. Using online and offline channels and the power of this community-based network, REFUNITE is able to reach more than 2.4 million people with information. In a country as vast as the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a total area of 2,345,409 square km, communication is an enormous challenge. To keep the entire population informed, the country has built a network of community radio stations deep in the remote territories that spread information from political national news to epidemic diseases. But these networks don’t…
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Posted by josefine
Feb 15 19
REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network saves albino child’s life
Gilbert, Mariam and their children on their wedding day. Building on a base of more than 1 million users looking for missing family members through REFUNITE’s platform, REFUNITE has identified and partnered with more than 4000 local community leaders to help reach offline refugees in highly disconnected and illiterate communities. Through these leaders, that are highly respected in their local societies, REFUNITE has a reach to more than 100 refugee communities and a combined reach to more than 2.4 million people. This allows REFUNITE to support communication around things that are locally relevant and often life-altering; and around issues that have an impact far beyond just family tracing. In late 2018, REFUNITE came across a struggling family. Gilbert and Mariam, a couple from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were living in isolation from their surrounding community in Burundi due to their 7-year old albino child. The country unfortunately has…
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Posted by josefine
Feb 13 19
The lost boy from Kenya
John’s picture, which was sent to his parents In December 2018, when most families were preparing to celebrate Christmas, John was thinking about his way out of a tough situation. Separated from his mother and father, he was living with distant family members. However, being subject to abuse by his relatives, his living situation had gotten unbearable and John wished for nothing but a safe place to live. John met a truck driver who was willing to help him get as far away from the abusive family members as possible. Hidden inside the truck, John ended up crossing the border to Tanzania. Fearing his relatives could come after him and still find him, John decided to go further. A bus took him to Kigoma, from where he eventually crossed the Tanganyika Lake and ended up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Upon arrival in the DRC, John was happy…
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Giulia Balestra
Posted by Giulia Balestra
Apr 4 18
After Years Apart Mother And Son Reconnect Across Continents
After Years Apart Mother And Son Reconnect Across Continents Tino* was born in 1992 in Kisangani, in the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tino and his five siblings had a happy childhood and close-knit family. When Tino was 16, his parents divorced and his father moved to Goma in North Kivu with the children. In eastern Congo this was a time of turmoil and violence. In 2013 conflict broke out and Tino fled to neighbouring Uganda. He lost contact with his siblings and with his mother Nadine*. Years passed. Nadine was now working in Kinshasa and she met a French man to whom she got married. In 2014 they both moved to France. In her newly opened hair salon, Nadine had the photo of her family back in Kisangani. She could not stop thinking about her children and was running out of ways to search for…
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Giulia Balestra
Posted by Giulia Balestra
Mar 27 18
Bonheur And Mireille: Hope And Connection After Ten Years Apart
Bonheur And Mireille: Hope And Connection After Ten Years Apart   Bonheur was born in a refugee camp. Before the war, his parents lived in Sud-Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1998, unrest and violence forced them from their home. They crossed lake Tanganyika on a boat and fled to Lugufu refugee camp in western Tanzania. This was the place where Bonheur was born. By the time Bonheur was starting school, the situation in eastern Congo had seemingly gone back to normal. Bonheur’s parents decided to return to South-Kivu and be closer to the rest of the family. In their hometown of Baraka, Bonheur grew up surrounded by the love of his parents, his aunt Merveille and uncle Emmanuel. However, growing insecurity in eastern Congo displaced many families again. When Bonheur’s father was killed in 2008, Bonheur, Merveille, and Emmanuel ran away. They ran in all directions. They…
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Giulia Balestra
Posted by Giulia Balestra
Mar 13 18
Marie And Pauline: Congolese Sisters Reconnected After Years Of Separation
Marie And Pauline: Congolese Sisters Reconnected After Years Of Separation Marie grew up in Goma, North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), surrounded by her nine siblings. She remembers the day when her youngest sister, Pauline, moved to Canada with her husband. Pauline had the chance to start afresh in a new country, different and far away from her own. Pauline missed her family and treasured the long phone calls with her sister Marie, during which the two sisters talked about their respective lives, their daily hardships, and their dreams and hopes for the future. In 2012, armed forces took over their hometown of Goma and the family got scattered. Marie was left with nothing. It was hard to believe that in only one day she had lost everything: her home, her belongings, her family. Marie found refuge in Kampala, Uganda, where she learned that the rest of the…
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Giulia Balestra
Posted by Giulia Balestra
Mar 13 18
Maman Grace And Théo: Finding Each Other After Ten Years Apart
Maman Grace And Théo: Finding Each Other After Ten Years Apart   Théo was a bright child and gifted football player with big dreams and ambitions for the future. He was 8 years old when he left his hometown in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It was 1996 and generalized political unrest forced many families to leave the country. Théo, his mother, and his two older sisters crossed the Tanzanian border to find refuge in Nyarugusu refugee camp, home to over 150,000 forcibly displaced people. For the family life in Nyarugusu was not easy, but for some time it felt safe, or safer, than home. Théo was not a common child and his talents did not go unnoticed. After several threats and a poisoning attempt, in 2008 Théo decided to leave the camp. The first place he went to was the port city of Mwanza,…
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Giulia Balestra
Posted by Giulia Balestra
Mar 7 18
REFUNITE Joins Danish Delegation’s Visit to Kalobeyei and Kakuma, Kenya
REFUNITE Joins Joins Danish Delegation’s Visit to Kalobeyei and Kakuma, Kenya   Nairobi, Kenya – On March 6th, REFUNITE had the opportunity to meet the Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, Ulla Tørnæs, and join a Danish Delegation during their visit to Kalobeyei settlement and Kakuma refugee camp in North-Western Kenya. The purpose of the visit was to learn about technology and development in Kenya and the existing initiatives and solutions in the ecosystem. REFUNITE’s team was honored to meet the Minister and discuss how technology can help to bring refugees families together. The Minister also talked to refugee families reunited through the REFUNITE family tracing platform to learn more about their past experiences and hopes for the future. During the visit, the Minister announced that the Danish Embassy in Nairobi will recruit a regional tech advisor to support the Danish tech ambassador and Danish initiatives on technology and development.…
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