REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network saves albino child’s life
Posted by josefine
Feb 15 19

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 … Continue reading REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network saves albino child’s life

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Congolese family
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 a long story of albino hunting and kidnapping, and albino children go through terrible fates if caught as body parts are used in rituals and magical potions that are thought to bring prosperity.

Working with three local community leaders from REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network, REFUNITE was  introduced to a Congolese community representative from the struggling couple’s community. The various leaders decided to pay a visit to the family.

Moved by their situation, and encouraged to act by the leaders within REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network, the local community representative referred the family to the Burundian Refugee and Stateless Protection Bureau in order to have the entire family registered under the national Albino protection program. The family’s case has also been forwarded to UNHCR for further assistance.

I dream to see the day when my albino son will be able to play outside of the house with other kids, without any fear, as I did when I was his age. REFUNITE has done what only love can do”, said the mother, Mariam, clearly touched and relieved that the local community leaders had been able to come together and support her family’s case.

A few months ago, Gilbert and Mariam’s four children, who have not been granted refugee status yet, were officially included in the parents’ manifest by UNHCR, which means the entire family is now under UNHCR protection. “REFUNITE has opened a door of hope for my entire family”, said Gilbert.

 

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