Graduates Launch a Community-Based Organization Focused on Refugee Research
York University - a member of BHER
Okello Oyat, Ochan Leomoi, Arte Dagane, Abdikadir Abikar, and Abdullahi Aden began their studies at York University’s Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) in 2013. After completing York University and Kenyatta University’s stackable certificate, diploma, and undergraduate degree programs, these same students lobbied for graduate programs in Dadaab. Through their persistence, York University began to offer an in situ masters program in the Fall of 2018. This June, these students completed their research projects and graduated with M.Ed. degrees.
Inspired by their studies, these students founded the Dadaab Response Association, a community-based organization led by refugee researchers. The Association is “a research organization that works in the Dadaab community and investigates problems the community faces and develops recommendations that can help change society,” says Ochan Leomoi, a founding member. Since launching, the Association has been commissioned by the CLCC and the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN) to conduct research on connected learning and the impact of COVID-19 in the Daddab refugee camps.
The challenges brought on by the pandemic have highlighted the importance of local capacity when international agencies and researchers cannot enter such spaces. The Dadaab Response Association hopes to fulfill these research needs during the pandemic.
Beyond the pandemic, the BHER graduate program and Dadaab Response Association hope to address the need for local, homegrown, qualified refugee researchers, who can publish and speak about issues affecting their own communities. Equipped with the right credentials and experiences, these researchers can leverage their local knowledge, language skills, and proximity to conduct rigorous research that accurately reflects the refugee community’s needs and informs local and international policies.
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