Global Action Week for Education: Oumarou’s Story

28 April 2022

It’s Global Action Week for Education – and the perfect time to tell you about how JRS is actively responding to the need for employment, income generation, and satisfying career paths for young refugees. 

Having the chance to work, earn a living, and be self-reliant is one of the most effective ways for refugees to rebuild their lives. Refugees have their dignity and hope reaffirmed when they acquire the means to earn their own living and support their families. 

This is Oumarou’s story:  

Investing in educational opportunities for refugees as well as their hosts is crucial to building strong relationships and successful futures for all members of refugee hosting communities.  

Oumarou Moussa is a 23-year-old Cameroonian whose village in the eastern part of the country hosts more than 25,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. He sees refugees in his community as his brothers and sisters as they live side by side searching for ways to improve their circumstances. 

Having a self-proclaimed love for sewing, in 2018 Oumarou took part in a vocational training program for tailoring so that he could join his brother in his established tailoring shop. After completing the course, he received the top score in the Certificate of Professional Qualification exam and began to work, continually seeking ways to improve some of the techniques he learned during his training. 

JRS equipped him with a sewing machine, and he was able to start his own business separate from his brother and even train other community members who were not able to take part in the program. Oumarou has started his own small training program at a reduced cost and has trained three young people in tailoring since 2020. Through income generated both by training other students and through his tailoring business, Oumarou has been able to purchase a second sewing machine, allowing him to expand his workshop and receive more orders.  

“It is a joy for me to be a reference in sewing in my village despite the fact that I did not have the same duration of training as my brother. Our luck with the JRS program is the vocational training center in which we were trained, the seriousness and rigor of the follow-up, and local support that allowed us to learn a lot in just six months.”  

Oumarou continues to perfect his craft and position himself as a teacher and leader in the community. He now serves as a teacher in JRS’s vocational training program so that even more refugees and Cameroonians can gain a skill that will lead to employment opportunities in their community and beyond. 

Oumarou’s story is unique – but it doesn’t have to be. You can learn how governmental and non-governmental organizations alike can help more refugees access post-secondary education here.