“My work with refugees taught me to be a real human, tolerant, an understanding person. I am a refugee and I know what it feels [like] when we are wrongly interpreted [versus] what it feels [like] when we are empowered as any other human being with full rights and dignity. My passion is driven by the unlimited [ability] of refugees to make this world a better place once given [the] opportunity.” - Pascal, Sky School Lead Facilitator in Kakuma Camp and Executive Director of URISE for Africa
As a victim of chance, and a champion of empowered and positive choice, Sky School facilitator, Pascal, has experienced first-hand, life’s tendency to turn out very differently than we expect when looking toward the future. He has seen the worst of what humans are capable of doing to one another, but he has also seen the best. The latter has been the catalyst pushing him forward in his own life, and the inspiration leading him to assist so many of his fellow refugees in harnessing the brightest future possible for themselves.
Chance led his life in the direction of having to flee his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to war and brought him to Kakuma (a refugee camp in Kenya) like so many others fleeing on-going violence and terror in DRC and surrounding countries. Choice however, has enabled Pascal to love life and find joy in helping others coming from the most challenging circumstances to harness their own inner strength and pave a path of potential for themselves and their families.
When asked to describe his experience of fleeing the only home he ever knew, Pascal responds by saying, “It was difficult and I had a negative imagination of myself being in a refugee camp. I really regretted my time and what the future would look like for me, but after working in refugee communities, interacting with my fellow refugees, I discovered that my problems [did not reach] the heights of their problems.”
This shared experience of finding himself, along with so many others, victimised by the cruel and unrelenting chance of the war that ravaged his country, forced to flee and become a refugee in a foreign land far from everything and everyone he knew, is precisely what led him to then choose a path of service. “In 2013 I started working with Kenya Red Cross Society. My work exposed me to the needs and suffering of the community. I felt I can do something but I was limited on some skills required. In 2015, I got a scholarship from JWL (Jesuit Worldwide Learning) to study at Regis University and I chose Social Work to be my concentration course because I wanted to work with refugee communities. And this is how my colleagues and I started a community-based organisation (URISE for Africa) with the aim of empowering refugee youth so that they can become good ambassadors of peace in their own communities.”
This path of service and belief in the value of education brought Pascal to Sky School for whom he facilitated the Social Entrepreneurship and Peace Building courses. Through Sky School courses he has already reached fifty-five students. As he puts it, “my experience is that I inspired many young people, and training others turned me into a continuous learner.”
If Pascal’s efforts through facilitating Sky School courses are successful, perhaps this is where the violence will end and a new beginning will manifest. “Sky School is a hope and future for so many young refugees. I hope to see it in offering more than secondary school level since the global refugee crisis is increasing and more specifically, accessing higher education is big challenge.” Pascal recognises that the value of Sky School is in both what it is teaching and who it is teaching it to.
When asked where he sees Sky School in the not too distant future, Pascal easily responds, “In the sky!”