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UAE: Kenyan community for refugee girls wins Sharjah's Dh500,000 advocacy award

Sharjah - Another Dh1.1 million grant was awarded to three non-profit organisations.


Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 5:07 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 5:09 PM

A Kenyan community for refugee girls has won the Dh500,000 Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (Siara) this year, it was announced on Sunday.

The Nairobi-based humanitarian agency was founded in 2008 to address the significant, unmet need for child and girl-focused refugee services in Kenya.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on children, girls and women whose hardships grew worse in the wake of a global public health crisis. Recognising such harsh realities, the Siara selection committee has chosen a girl- and woman-centric humanitarian organisation for the award.

Since inception in 2008, RefuSHE’s mission has been to protect, educate and empower orphaned, unaccompanied and separated refugee girls, children and young women aged 13 – 21 in the greater lakes region of East Africa, helping them build healthier and more resilient futures for themselves and their children.

Through its trauma-informed and girl-centric interventions and long-term programmes, the Nairobi-based non-profit has met a range of needs — from urgent safety, shelter and healthcare to economic empowerment, vocational training, mental health initiatives and livelihoods strengthening, RefuSHE has successfully made a sustainable impact on the lives of vulnerable, forcibly displaced girls and women, by turning them into empowered, confident individuals fully equipped to reintegrate into society, and build happy and secure lives for themselves and their families.

RefuSHE has supported over 5,000 direct beneficiaries, and around 20,000 beneficiaries in all, including the children of some refugees. Several among them have been resettled in countries like US and Canada.

Noting that the pandemic has had a particularly devastating effect on women and girls, Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said it was fitting that Siara 2021 has been awarded to RefuSHE, an organisation built on the principle that every young woman deserves an opportunity.

“Their holistic programmes, which seek to provide opportunities to refugee girls and promote their wellbeing at every level, are crucial especially during these times,” he said.

The Big Heart Foundation director Mariam Al Hammadi noted that the hundreds of entries Siara receives every year — each with a story worth honouring and supporting — make the selection process for TBHF rather tough.

“At Siara, we firmly believe that outstanding humanitarian action is one that not only supports people, but also hones their talents and capabilities, helping them turn their dreams into tangible achievements despite the challenges they face. Hence, it is with great pleasure that we have chosen RefuSHE from Kenya as the winner of the fifth edition of the Siara Award,” she said.

The non-profit’s “exceptional journey has brought hope to the lives of thousands of girls and women. It has empowered them with education, moral support and all the necessary tools to facilitate their transformation from refugees into engaged, productive members of their community”, she further noted, adding, “this award is the least we can do to express our appreciation of RefuSHE’s outstanding efforts, and to ensure the sustainability of its impact. They have managed to open a window of hope in these dark times — hope that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, has a right to live with dignity, and that it can be achieved, with God’s grace and human effort”.

An elated Geoffrey Thige, CEO of RefuSHE, said: “We are all ecstatic that after so many years of caring for refugees, we have been able to turn the spotlight on our efforts on a prestigious global platform. I am excited that organisations like TBHF and UNHCR are supporting humanitarian work for refugees. Thank you for bringing us and the work we do every day into the limelight,” he said.

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