World Refugee Day: A Journey to Inclusive Employment

To commemorate World Refugee Day, PFP-IDE alumnus Stephen Areba shares how applying his Fellowship skills from the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD) helps individuals with disabilities in Dadaab Refugee Camp find a path to inclusive employment. Located in eastern Kenya, Dadaab is the world’s third largest refugee camp and houses more than 200,000 Somali refugees. 

Stephen & Evan at KISE

PFP-IDE alum Stephen Areba and his Fellowship host, U.S. Outbound Fellow Dr. Evan Dean, at the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) on October 12, 2018.

My name is Stephen Areba and I am a Rehabilitation Officer at the Lutheran World Federation in Kenya, where I support individuals with disabilities at Hagadera in the Dadaab Refugee Camp. My PFP-IDE Fellowship in Kansas helped me learn evidence-based practices for inclusive employment that I have adapted to support individuals with disabilities in Dadaab as they set and accomplish their own goals.

Kusey Mohamed Mohamud in tailoring class

Kusey Mohamed Mohamud in a Tailoring session at the Lutheran World Federation Hagadera Refugee Camp Livelihood Centre on November 16, 2018.

One such individual is Kusey Mohamed Mohamud. Now 55 years old, Kusey was among the first refugees to arrive in Dadaab in 1992 during the civil war in Somalia. She developed a physical disability after sustaining gunshot wounds to her upper left and lower bilateral limbs. She also lost her husband and five children while fleeing the war. Although she experiences challenges in mobility, she walks independently with the help of an assistive aid. Currently, Kusey resides in Hagadera in Dadaab Refugee camp where she has lived for over 25 years taking care of her sister’s children. Her sister is also deceased due to the civil war.

Despite these challenges, Kusey has become a well-known respected leader in Hagadera, where she is the Chairlady of the Community Based Rehabilitation Committee. She was appointed to this position in 1993 after displaying her great leadership capacity by becoming the first female to form a self-help group for women with disabilities. In Somalia, Kusey had no formal education and was simply a housewife although she had skills in weaving and would often support the family by making mats. In Dadaab, she was unable to work due to the injuries she had sustained, which made being the breadwinner of the family difficult. Furthermore, one of the children under her care was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and her family has had to rely on agencies for most of their basic needs.

Kusey Mohamed Mohamud at awarding ceremony

Kusey Mohamed with Lutheran World Federation staff during graduation ceremony for students in the Vocational and Skills Training Program in Hagadera, Dadaab Refugee Camp, on August 30, 2018.

However, in 2017, Kusey became able to use her left hand after being supported to undergo corrective surgery and a series of therapy sessions. In September 2018, Kusey and other recruits enrolled in the Lutheran World Federation’s vocational and technical skills training program, where they pursued a Tailoring course which was launched through the inclusive employment project I developed during my PFP-IDE Fellowship at KUCDD. We have applied evidence-based practices I learned as a Professional Fellow in Kansas, including the Self Determined Career Development Model (SDCDM), which has a structured process designed to support PWDs as they set and achieve employment related goals. We have managed to enroll 20 PWDs in technical skills programs (9 in Tailoring and 11 in ICT). They are scheduled to sit for their Grade III examination in tailoring and ICT this August 2019.

Self Determined Career Development Model class

Stephen and Dr. Evan Dean with participants in a training on the Self Determined Career Development Model and inclusive employment at American Space, Moi University, Nairobi in October 2018.

Kusey attributes her motivation for joining the Tailoring program to the need to support her family. She has learnt a lot and is able to make clothes for women and children. She describes further with joy how she managed to earn a few coins from her tailoring skills by way of making up some cloths for her neighbors during the recent celebration of Eid Ul Fitr Holiday on June 5, 2019. She aspires to proceed to Grade IV in the Tailoring program and learn how to make school uniforms so that she can start up her own business someday and be self-reliant.

Stephen Areba is a Rehabilitation Officer at the Lutheran World Federation. He spent his Spring 2019 PFP-IDE Fellowship at the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD).