The Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) is managed at the global level by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on behalf of the Government of Germany and implemented by RET in Burundi and Chad. The DAFI program aims to provide higher education scholarships for refugees and returnees living in crisis-affected areas to fulfill their tertiary education dream.
Building refugees and returnees’ capacity through quality tertiary education and developing competent human resources will pave the way for their entire families’ income generation prospects and lead to a better prosperous future. Since 2008, RET positively impacted the lives of more than 620 refugee and returnee students to pursue their tertiary education in Burundi & Chad.
A sparkle of hope in camps
RET has been implementing the DAFI program in Burundi since 2008. During this period, 620 students, including 30.4% women and 69.6% men, 38% of whom are returnees, and 62% of refugees have benefited from the scholarship program. The educational programs implemented in the refugee camps in Burundi focus on primary education for refugees or returnees. The latter faces lack of educational opportunities adapted to their needs and/or age and, more importantly, a lack of financial support to access university training and skills to become self-reliant individuals and responsible citizens.
The possibility offered by the “Albert Einstein German Academic Initiative for Refugees (DAFI) scholarship program” in Burundi represents an opportunity to support young refugees, especially Congolese youth living in camps (Kinama, Musasa, Bwagiriza and Kavumu), and or in urban areas (Bujumbura and Rumonge) as well as supports returnees in their higher education pursue; offering them professional qualification oriented towards gainful employment and prosperous future for their host communities.
The Integration Camp 2020
Beginning of 2020, RET in Burundi organized an integration camp for the new DAFI scholars in Bujumbura. The camp was organized to develop acceptable academic practices and facilitate community integration of 40 new students selected in December 2019 for the current academic year. Thirty-two refugees and eight returnees joined the camp to meet local universities’ representatives and be informed about the universities’ various fields. During the initiation camp, the scholars participated in multi-disciplinary training modules (presentations, application exercising, and role play) focusing on Social Integration, Financial Education, University Integration, and Leadership skills. The scholars are briefed about the academic environment, the integration process, budget management, credits, and saving. After going through the extensive training, the participants worked closely with university representatives, present in the camp to identify their relevant skills and the different disciplines offered by the universities.
Capacity- building – Internship – Entrepreneurship
During their academic tertiary education, RET supported scholars with various extra. Curricular training courses to strengthen their life and professional skills and facilitated practical internships following their professional and academic outlooks. In 2017, eight scholars were certified as trainers in financial education.
In 2018, 2019, and 2020, RET organized training and/or exchange sessions on financial education, life skills, climate change, leadership, and entrepreneurship. These sessions successfully reached 154 DAFI students (67 in 2018, 87 in 2019). An integration camp was organized in January 2020 by RET to facilitate the integration of 40 new DAFI students selected in December 2019 to start their university studies in January 2020.
Since 2015, RET has initiated an entrepreneurship training program for DAFI scholars to equip them with the relevant skills to facilitate employment and income-generating activities (IGAs). Laterally, RET supported them to launch their business plans at the end of their academic studies and provided them with access to start-up costs. RET launched a competition for entrepreneurial micro-projects of DAFI finalist students to facilitate their transition to professional life and their socio-economic integration. Four (4) micro-projects were selected from seven (7) to benefit from this financial support. RET has assigned the carriers of these micro-projects a Coach for training on developing a Business Plan and for technical support throughout the execution of their micro-projects. They then received financial support from RET in terms of micro credits through DIFO (Micro-finance Institution identified by RET to financially support the projects of DAFI students).
RET also encourages DAFI students to participate in developing their communities through community-focused and youth-led activities (awareness-raising on behavior change, environmental protection, assistance to people with specific needs, etc.). In this context, 4 Associations have emerged: AFPD in 2017 (Association of fruits of the DAFI program), CubeMedia in 2017, ABAFEV in 2018 (Association for the good future of vulnerable women and children), PAXED in 2018 ( Action for Peace, the Environment and Sustainable Development) and the DAFI Club in 2019. DAFI scholars have already impacted the lives of their communities through the activities carried out by their associations. As an illustration, 20 young Burundian returnees benefited from a training workshop on life skills organized by the AFPD Association; the CubeMedia company has sensitized more than 300 young people (refugees and Burundians) on new information and communication technologies. They have also created a mobile application “GENIUS” application as an online encyclopedia to help young people with their studies and research in science. More than 1’500 young people were trained on the importance of protecting the environment and peaceful coexistence organized by the PAXED association.
The DAFI scholarship program brings durable solutions and a new socio-economic prospect to young Congolese refugees and young Burundian returnees. The scholars constituted successful models for their peers to follow and created a lasting positive change in their respective communities, leading to greater peace and stability.
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