From Refugee to Digital Trailblazer: Vuma's Journey of Resilience and Empowerment
In 2011, and in the height of tribal clashes in his village, Patient Vuma, a young Congolese national together with members of his family, was forced to flee his home country. During their treacherous journey to seek refuge in Uganda, Patient was tragically separated from his family members. Desolate and bereft but with an unwavering determination, he crossed into Kampala, Uganda.
Posted on 07 Jun 2023
Struggling to secure his basic needs, Vuma found solace in a local church in Katwe, a space that gave him the opportunity to pursue his love for music.
He started playing instruments and mentored people in the church choir.
In return, the church provided him with basic necessities, including food and shelter. However, the language barrier proved to be an obstacle in Uganda, prompting him to move to Kenya, where his understanding of Kiswahili, Kenya’s national language, facilitated better communication and integration.
In Kenya, through WhatsApp groups connecting refugees, Vuma stumbled upon an incredible opportunity: the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) was seeking individuals to train in digital skills, a field he had always wanted to explore.
Fuelled by his unwavering passion, he applied and was selected as one of the 100 aspiring youths for the training program towards the end of 2022. This remarkable opportunity promised to not only refine his skills but also empower him in the fiercely competitive digital market.
Over the course of a transformative five-week training session, Vuma's world expanded exponentially. Acquiring expertise in graphic design, social media management, and video editing, he emerged as a versatile digital professional.
With his newfound skills, he began crafting logos, posters, and business cards, while also providing social media support to amplify online presence for various individuals and businesses.
Collaborating with companies, he assisted them in launching successful campaigns and managing their digital platforms effectively. He is now able to support his family through the money he earns from his online digital work.
The training has instilled immense confidence within me, as I now possess valuable skills and the potential to earn a living. It has provided me with the invaluable experience of collaborating with diverse individuals. I am determined to pursue higher education and professional development to enhance my capabilities. This is my dream.
/ Patient Vuma
DRC partnered with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Eastleigh Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) and Ajira/eMobilis to establish a digital empowerment centre, empowering Vuma and other trained youths to leverage their skills further.
Within this nurturing space, they continue to refine their digital expertise and benefit from coaching and mentorship provided by Ajira/eMobilis, fostering their entry into the global digital economy.
Supported by funding from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, through the Netherlands funded PROSPECT Project (Partnership to improve Prospects for Forcibly Displaced Persons and Host Communities Digital Opportunity Fund) and collaboratively with the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT), Adept Technologies, Generation Kenya, and eMobilis, DRC has so far provided comprehensive digital skills training, coaching and mentorship to 99 youths, of whom 62 are refugees while 37 are Kenyans, across Nairobi, Kiambu, and Kajiado counties.
Vuma's journey from a vulnerable refugee to a digital expert epitomizes the resilience and determination by refugees, and the transformative power that access to opportunities can provide to forcibly displaced persons.
His story serves as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that with the right support and training, individuals like Vuma can overcome adversity, thrive in the digital world, and pave the way for a brighter self-reliant future.
A tutor from Ajira/eMobilis leading part of the 99 youths in the digital skills training at the digital youth empowerment centre in Eastleigh, Kenya.