“Malogerwa vocational school changed my life. I am now an entrepreneur, and my future is bright,” asserted 21-year-old Sporah.
“I have a job now with a Non-Governmental Organization. I would not have gotten this position without the knowledge gained from learning computer skills,” voiced Yuditha with a broad smile.
Sporah and Yuditha are two examples of hundreds of young Tanzanian women who have acquired practical skills that enable them to master various trades from the vocational training centres located at the periphery of the refugee camps in Kibondo and Kasulu Districts. The training offered by UNHCR and the Danish Refugee Council include; Information Community Technologies (ICT), tailoring, soap making, phone fixing, bicycle repair, hairdressing, and baking, among others.
Born to a low-income family in Kibondo District, Sporah was unable to go beyond primary school due to poverty. Likewise, 19-year-old Yuditha from Kasulu District finished her secondary education in 2019 but could not continue with tertiary education due to financial difficulties.
Sporah and Yuditha joined classes at Maloregwa and Nyarugusu, respectively, after receiving information from their village leaders. Following a rigorous screening process, Sporah took up tailoring and embroidery classes. “I learnt and developed skills in tailoring, embroidery, design, life skills, and financial literacy that has helped me make informed financial decisions in my business,” she said. After the training, Sporah received a sewing machine as part of a start-up kit, and she has now set up a thriving business where she is also training other young women.
Yuditha, on the other hand, made it to the highly contested ICT course, being one of the three women in a class of 40 students. “Growing up, I was always fascinated watching people typing and moving the computer mouse around at nearby stationery shops. I always wished I could do the same one day,” she laughs. “Today, I am a proud ICT certificate holder, from the only institution offering this course in the entire village, and happily employed,” she adds.
During the 3–6-month skills training at the community Centres, refugees and Tanzanians from nearby villages learn side by side, interact freely, and learn from each other. “I met new people and made new friends among them, refugees. They are people just like you and me; what differentiates us (Tanzanians) from them (refugees) is they are living at the camp while we are at home where we can practice after classes,” said Sporah.
“Access to livelihood reduces refugees’ dependence on humanitarian aid and increases self-reliance among communities,” said Peter Opio, UNHCR Livelihood Officer. “Extending services to the host community contributes to promoting peaceful coexistence and enhances social cohesion between refugees and refugee hosting communities in line with the aspirations of the Global Compact on Refugees,” he added.
Nengo Village leader Mr. Jumanne Rashid added that the training centre has opened doors to many young people in his area and helps them become self-reliant, which is crucial in reducing poverty at the district level. The village leader appealed to UNHCR and partners to continue with the support as it helps them achieve their development goals.
Constructed in 2017 under the United Nations Kigoma Joint Programme (KJP), with funding from the Government of Norway, the Community Centres have contributed positively to the lives of 3,764 (2,017 female) individuals. More than 15 percent (570) of the graduates were Tanzanian nationals from the nearby villages. Through the KJP, UNHCR, and other UN actors have been working towards achieving collective outcomes that reduce the needs, risks, and vulnerabilities of communities in the Kigoma region accrued over multiple years.