Finding the right way for social change

Zair, Goma

There are over 16.7 million refugees worldwide living in urban areas and almost 1000 NGOs worldwide working with them. UNHCR has formal agreements with more than 250 organizations and considering that a quarter (from USD 300 million annual budget) of the budget is going to support these refugees, you would consider that a lot is developing in this area supporting them. The reality is that, most of them head off big cities in searching for work and a way of integrating and living a normal life.

I have chosen to write about the community of refugees from Uganda where it is estimated between 37000 and 100000 refugees, probably most of them located in Kampala. Taking into consideration that the entire population from the city numbers a total of 1,659,600 inhabitants (stated by The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), in 2011), over 6% of the population could be refugees.
This is an impressive percentage for a population who is having political and economic fractures for centuries. Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world, with 37.7% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day, rated as very corrupt, destroyed by civil wars and massacres.
It is amazing how such a country is able to develop and provide social support for other vulnerable groups. This make me think that there are no poor nations or communities or people.
There is an organization who was willing to make a change and start re-building communities and find solutions where we would normally not see around or within us. YARID organization provides support for the refugee community through the help and assistance of volunteers and people willing to share the experience and knowledge.
What I found extraordinary is the way they managed to create a program able to transfer skills from one group to another, having these resource people who are teaching English, former refugees that came to realize that not knowing English could be a barrier of getting a job and integrating into the Ugandan society. I like the way this NGO activities reflect the real problems of the people and communities they serve. So, for example, a big issue among youngster is the conflict based on ethnic or religious matters. The organization’s leaders and people involved found a very good way of dealing and rather bring it into surface using a very simple tool, creating dialogue rather than rejection: sports. This is the moment where all are equal – sportsmen – not Ugandans or Congolese. This I call problem-solving approach and good resource management.

I hope I will be able to have this model as a guide in designing and implementing my work.
It definitely inspired me and gave me a better insight in regards with my way of thinking and acting.
As usual, I want to share with you my lessons learned here:


This is not a very easy thing to do, as we generally get to see the effects that the problem causes rather than the issue. But, this is the starting point that guaranties you the success of the project or the failure. Using the right tools and people you will be able to identify it and most of the time even correlate it with the solutions.


What’s the best way to tackle?
There are a lot of techniques, good practice models, intervention methods and so on, but which one applies best in your community, group, situation? This is what you need to research and assure yourself is the one you need and succeed with.


When you see or experience something that you find unjust, try to pass this emotion and move forward. From my own experience, I can tell that things and people will come along and the universe will follow your wishes.


You need to have a good network, of people, organizations, stakeholders, donors and so on. Resources and knowledge are not enough when it comes to social change. Fortunately, there is a good NGO network worldwide and it is just a matter of activating it and getting in touch.

I could see that YARID organization approach was tuned to the community and group particularities, so for example where they had identified a group conflict issue they proposed a football program in order to solve it, as this is something that is perceived as fun and is available to everyone. Moving to a different community from a well developed country and let’s say having some issues regarding the inclusion of travelers into their community, it would be probably most appropriate to develop a program based on cultural exchange promoting multicultural activities.
Some of the solutions are just in front of us! We just need to put it into action. And sometimes this is the most difficult part.
Writing this article I was inspired by the following video.

Stay united.