- Refugees self-sufficiency program is an initiative that is aimed at helping refugees at the Miami refugee center, mainly refugees from Iraq and Cuba, to learn computer skills, internet usage and improve their language skills to help them get employment.
- The project will involve setting up a refugee IT center at the Miami Refugee Center.
- The project will be spearheaded by the Association of University Students (AUS) in collaboration with the UNHCR, local NGO’s and volunteer groups.
- The UNHCR defines a refugee as “Any person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear or for reasons other than personal convenience, is unwilling to avail himself/herself for the protection of that country.” (UNHCR, 1985)
- The U.S military invasion of Iraq and Fidel Castro’s reign in Cuba resulted in Thousands of Iraqi and Cuban refugees being resettled in the U.S.
- Due to their race, language barriers lacks adequate computer knowledge and discrimination. The refuge has been unable to secure employment and adapt to the U.S culture.
Statement of the Problem
- The U.S lacks a national policy on refugee integration, limited and timely assistance is given to refugees to help them with their immediate needs. There are no policies to cater to long-term refugee integration (Dwyer, 2010).
- The refugees are usually victims of war and political discrimination. Most of them are unskilled in modern life practices and lack formal education. They face cultural adjustment problems and are unable to get formal employment due to their lack of formal education and language barriers.
- Refugees face rejection and hostilities from the Native Americans who are not open to foreign cultures and are rigid about foreign-born populations (Mayadas, 2005). They are discriminated against, oppressed, and denied employment opportunities due to their races, religion, and types of dressing.
- Refugee children, especially girls, face negligence and sexual harassment and are at risk of contracting STI’s and HIV/AIDS. They are also vulnerable to abuse through forced child labor in homesteads as house-helps. (Schmidt, 2004)
- To help refugees gain adequate computer skills and learn proper English.
- To help refugees get employment.
- Protect and advocate for refugees in the case of discrimination.
Integrating occupational information and computer technology
To address the issues of unemployment due to the language barrier, lack of computer skills, and knowledge of places to get jobs, the project is set to implement the following measures:
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- An IT center is to be set up in the refugee camp. This will entail renting a hall in the camp vicinity of at least 20 square feet.
- The second step will involve the acquisition of 10 computers with minimum internet connectivity requirements from IBM Computers (My. Storman, 2012) and setting up a LAN.
- The computers will be pre-installed with Microsoft Office packages, and the latest Windows Operating System as these are used by most institutions and workplaces.
- Once the LAN is set up and connected to the internet, the computers will be bookmarked by the internet for job vacancies and automatic alerts on information on available jobs.
- Career search engines will be bookmarked and set as home pages for the IT Center computers. These include http://www.onetonline.org/ and http://www.upwardlyglobal.org/
- The AUS will mobilize and provide student volunteers with IT skills those taking Linguistics to provide services at the IT center. This will be an opportunity for students to gain experience in community development as an internship.
- The volunteers will guide and teach the refugees computer and internet skills and how to navigate the career search engines.
- A semi-commercial sized printer will be installed at the center for the printing of refugees’ CV and job application documents.
- Daytime and evening classes will be offered at the IT center for the refugees at a subsidized fee. Those unable to meet the fees will have free lessons and be required to pay back once they get jobs.
Exemplary nature of the project
- Computers will have pre-installed typing programs such as Mavis-beacon and programs that teach basic typing and use of computers to improve their typing skills and speed.
- Linguistics student volunteers from AUS and other volunteers will be on-site to help the refugees improve their English and communication skills.
- A website that may help refugees improve their English skills will also be subscribed to use with them. An example is http://www.worldenglishinstitute.org.
- The project will work in partnership with Human Rights Activist groups that will advocate for the refugees in cases of discrimination. The project will seek cooperation with other umbrella bodies advocating for refugees such as the UNHCR (UNHCR, 2013) and Young Humanitarians Advocating for Refugees Worldwide (Walker, 2011) and key players in the Entertainment industry. The project will approach the entertainment industry Icons to be ambassadors of the project to change the American’s perspective of refugees.
- The UNHCR and participating local NGOs will take charge of making the applications for jobs for the refugees once they identify the jobs for which they are qualified.
- UNHCR and the local NGO’s that will include human rights activist groups will be responsible for calling the employers on behalf of the refugees whenever cases of discrimination will come to focus.
|LAN set up||$500.00|
|MS Office installation||$250.00|
The time required for this project to be effective is outlined below.
|Activity Type||The time required for completion|
|Search for rental hall||Two weeks|
|Purchase and Installation of computers||One month|
|Setting up a LAN||Two weeks|
|Recruitment of IT volunteers||Four weeks|
|Total time||Three months|
Limitations of the project
- Student volunteers and other volunteer groups may not abide by the program for a long duration.
- It may be difficult to find a suitable hall within the center’s neighborhoods.
- Repair and maintenance of the computers may be a bit expensive to manage since the refugees will only pay a small fee.
There are numerous programs in place that help the refugees earn a living, these include:
Charity programs: The American Refugee Committee (ARC) is a charity organization that sources funding to help refugees (American Refugee Committee, 2011). This program, however, does not encourage self-sufficiency on the part of refugees.
The USRP Approach: This program emphasizes on the government employing refugee early to grant them economic sufficiency. This program has a limitation; it encourages refugees to be government depended.
Andy. (2012). Computer Hardware & Internet Connection Requirements . Web.
ARC, A. R. (2011). American Refugee Committee. Minneapolis.
Dwyer, T. (2010). Refugee Integration in The United States: Challenges and opportunities. Church World Service.
Mayadas, U. A. (2005). Assessment of Issues Facing Immigrants and Refugee Families. New York: Columbia University Press.
Schmidt, S. (2004). Separated Refugee Children in the United States: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington DC: BRidging Refugee Youths and Children’s services.
UNHCR. (2013). What We Do. Web.
UNHCR, U. N. (1985). The State of the World’s Refugees in Search for Solutions. New York: Oxford Universty Press.
Walker, C. (2011, August 6). Young Humanitarians Advocating For Refugees Worldwide. Web.