Born to parents of two different ethnic groups in Burundi, Daniel’s childhood involved discrimination and conflict with others in the community, including his own family. Refusing to join a militia group in an area of high political tension, he was left with only one choice – to flee for his safety. When Daniel visited UWCSEA East, he said, “I never had the idea to leave my country until the day I found my life in trouble.”
Upon arriving in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, Daniel took every opportunity to grow as a learner and leader. He made himself known to every organisation and initiative that caught his attention. Despite having had very little English language education in Burundi, he quickly learned English through online courses such as Cousera. Soon, Daniel was offered a position as an interpreter for the UNHCR. But through his work with the UNHCR and other refugee aid organisations, he realised that something significant was missing. Despite working to serve refugees, Daniel felt many of these organisations failed to put the needs of refugees at the forefront of their work. There were very few opportunities for refugees to provide feedback. This prevented the organisations from developing strategies that aligned with the wants and needs of refugees. Not only did this limit the effectiveness of the work these organisations were carrying out, but it also took empowerment out of the equation.
So, when Daniel first heard about Sky School, his hope was tainted by a sense of scepticism that he had learnt to carry with him. But after talking to Polly and Mia, he realised that refugee voices could not only be heard but would also be valued. After all, Sky School recognises that refugees are best placed to understand the challenges they themselves face and implement workable solutions in their communities. Daniel agreed to help set up the first Sky School learning hub in Kakuma Camp. Daniel has since been resettled to Canada, but his involvement with Sky School continues: in June 2019, three years after first contacting Polly and Mia, he contributed to the Living Peace and Well-Being curriculum hackathon (a two-day curriculum building event bringing together refugees, educators and students) held here at UWCSEA East.
Photos from June curriculum hackathons at UWCSEA East