JRS’S Pathfinder: Helping Refugees Rebuild Their Future
Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) - CLCC MemberAuthor: Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) - CLCC Member
As refugees remain displaced for longer periods of time, the need to begin rebuilding their lives becomes paramount. JRS responded to this need by launching Pathfinder, The Refugee Career Incubator. Pathfinder is an integrated programme that links market-informed career counseling, post-secondary education and training, life skills coaching, job placement, and mentoring. It targets people living in or affected by displacement who may not always have completed secondary education and aims to improve their quality of life by increasing levels of meaningful employment or small enterprise development. To make the transition between training and working smoother and more efficient, JRS links with various partners in business, commerce, and education.
In Kenya, JRS Pathfinder partners with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to offer online degrees to refugees living in Nairobi. Rozine, a 21-year-old refugee from Rwanda, is one of the 31 participants of the programme. “We should do everything to achieve what we want in life,” she says when explaining how hard she is studying for her degree. Rozine enrolled in the Communications programme to achieve her dream of becoming a journalist.
Online learning presents many challenges. JRS provides the proper and necessary conditions to ensure that every student can focus
throughout their course. Refugees meet daily at the JRS compound in Nairobi, where they can find support from our programme managers. Caring for the students’ psycho-social and emotional well being is crucial and JRS staff take every opportunity to provide students with a conducive atmosphere to study.
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows,” says Rozine while explaining that despite the challenges, studying is allowing her to expand her horizons. Caroline, who is studying for an Associates of Arts in General Studies with a Specialization in
Business is convinced that “knowledge is like an investment that will pay eventually.”
Services offered as part of the Pathfinder initiative serve as models for other projects. The objective is for refugees to live beyond
their displacement, exercise choice around their futures, and no longer need the services of humanitarian organizations.
To read other stories from the 2019 CLCC Yearbook, click here.