The recent conference held in Namanga in February reminded me to be grateful that we have such a great team. Our management system at Xavier Project relies on independence and personal targets and it is wonderful that all sixteen members of the staff seem to have targets and ideals for the urban refugee community that are in tune. In Uganda, Stephen, Edgar, Alex, Sandra and Veronah are bringing together the two programmes running there and coming up with ever more ideas as to how to improve on the impact they are having. Alex is now working full time in Tamuka Hub and as such is able to offer a Microsoft Office course to run alongside the social media course. Veronah, our new receptionist is getting actively involved and assisting Alex in teaching and uploading refugee blogs and articles to the internet. Stephen, Sandra and Edgar are looking into new ways of offering an all-round education to our students such as opening a library and remedial class centre dedicated to the 70 students we are now sponsoring in Uganda.
In Kenya we welcomed the long awaited arrival of Ashley Beckett to our main office. Ashley is now our director of communications and public relations. This includes communications within the organization (particularly between Uganda and Kenya) but predominantly means conveying our message effectively to the rest of the world. The videos you have seen recently on-line as well as this newsletter are largely her creation. Ashley’s role will also contribute to one of the themes decided on at this year’s conference namely ‘programme integration’. In 2014 we intend to blur the lines between our education, media and livelihoods programmes as it seems clear that united the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. An example of this is the new ‘house’ system which sees our students divided into linear groups. Each member of staff, whether livelihoods or Tamuka, has been assigned a group of students with whom they share pastoral advice and guidance. The second theme can be seen here as well: ‘connecting with the community’. Given that some of us are spending more and more time in the office, in 2014 we are making a commitment to visit, connect and share with our beneficiaries more than ever before.
A special mention of thanks should be given to four fantastic volunteers who have given us their time, resources and experience since the last newsletter. John Thuillier from Accountants for International Development spent three months in Kenya guiding all members of staff in various areas that went beyond accounting. He also went beyond any expectations in terms of the commitment he made towards Xavier Project and still managed to fit in a full marathon while he was here! Sarah Yates on the other side of the border in Uganda spent three months working in the education programme with Stephen and Sandra. She was able to guide them on how best to spend our funds there, including a significant amount that she had raised herself. As a teacher with many decades of experience her insights and guidance were invaluable. Dexter Findley spent six weeks with us in both Kenya and Uganda making a documentary about refugees. The focus is on resettlement and the impact it has on the incentives and ambitions of refugees. Keep an eye out for its launch in a few months’ time. It is great to know that Dexter will be joining us in a full-time capacity in June. Now Ellie Wintour has arrived and is acting as an intern for Rafiki Fabrix. She has taken to the task with enthusiasm and will certainly steer Rafiki into more prosperous waters. If any of you would like to get involved in a more practical way do get in touch. Thanks to you all again for your support.
– Edmund Page, Director, Xavier Project