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Adella's journey of resilience, empowerment, and success in Kalobeyei refugee settlement

Meet Adella, a 35-year-old mother of 7, from DR Congo. Adella has been a refugee in Kalobeyei settlement within the expansive Turkana County in Kenya since 2019. For many years, she struggled to make ends meet as a refugee, just like many others in Kalobeyei but now, she is a tailor with a small business serving refugees and the host community. Her story is one of determination, perseverance, and empowerment.

Rose Mwelu / DRC

Posted on 17 May 2023

Having been forced to flee from DR Congo due to insecurity, Adella was reunited with her husband through the aid of friends and relatives in Kalobeyei after years of searching.

Life away from home has not been easy for Adella and she recalls the hardships they experienced during the journey to Kalobeyei and the difficulties settling in a new country.

Adella recalls how hard it was speaking a different languages and the struggles with harsh weather in the camp which is located in the arid northwest of Kenya where a prolonged drought has ravaged the county since 2020. Despite the challenges, they were determined to adapt to their new home and make the most of the opportunities available.

In 2020, Adella decided to enrol in the tailoring training programme offered by the Danish Refugee Council to improve her skills and increase her chances of getting a better job to supplement the household income in addition to her husband's earnings.

After graduating from the tailoring programme, she was taken through business development and financial literacy training. Inspired by her newfound skills and knowledge, Adella and her peers formed the Neema Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA)  group to save money and access low-interest loans.

From refugee to entrepreneur
Rose Mwelu / DRC

From refugee to entrepreneur

In 2021, Adella used her savings to access an initial loan from the VSLA group to open a clothing and fashion shop in the market of Kalobeyei integrated settlement.

Using the tailoring skills acquired from training, she earned enough to repay her first loan and took additional credit to expand the business.

She used the money to buy four sewing machines and employed three women and two men who were part of her tailoring training class.

Adella is not only focused on her own business success but is also a passionate gender empowerment champion  for women in her community.

She is a mentor to seven young women who recently graduated from the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) funded Learning through Education and Access to Skills for Employment for Refugees and Host Communities (LEAP) programme.

Rose Mwelu / DRC

Despite facing challenges, such as high monthly payments for the sewing machines bought on credit, Adella remains determined to overcome obstacles and continue growing her business.

She is also exploring ways to acquire more tailoring machines to expand her business to other areas and reach more customers, including Kalobeyei Village 2 and Village 3, and venture into new markets.

Adella's story is a true example of resilience, determination, and a desire to empower others.

Through her hard work, skills, and support from DRC through the WUSC funded project, Adella has transformed her life and is making a positive impact on her community.

She continues to inspire and uplift other women, and her future plans are filled with aspirations for further growth and success.

Adella's journey is a testament to the human spirit's ability to overcome challenges and achieve greatness.

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