As we mark World Refugee Day, we highlight the contribution and resilience of two UN volunteers deployed with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Franck Ndohessengar (Chad) and Mbabazi Mugemana (Rwanda) serve on the frontline of humanitarian support in Chad and Cameroon, respectively.
Franck Ndohessengar (37) is a UN Volunteer Technical Associate and Project Management Engineer, based in eastern Chad. His mission is a direct response to the ongoing war in Sudan, which has resulted in a large influx of refugees.
Deployed in Guereda for 45 days, Franck coordinated activities related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), an essential element in guaranteeing the health and dignity of displaced populations. He is also in charge of site planning, which involves the design and installation of refugee camps. Reflecting on his assignment, Franck says: "Every shelter built is a symbol of hope."
In collaboration with the non-governmental organization Agence de Developpement Economique et Social (ADES), Franck oversaw the construction of 600 shelters in two camps, Kounougou and Milé. These provided safe spaces for 3,085 people from 743 households.
In addition, his team were tasked with building a further 4,200 shelters, 2,960 of which have already been completed. In collaboration with humanitarian organizations such as Care International and World Vision, Franck has also been involved in the construction of 220 latrines and showers and a water station that can hold as much water as 50 large bathtubs.
Being revered by the younger refugees as the one who provides them with shelter and water is a source of pride for me. --Franck Ndohessengar, UN Volunteer Technical Associate and Project Management Engineer with UNHCR, Chad
Meanwhile, in Cameroon, Mbabazi Mugemana is a Refugee UN Volunteer and National Education Assistant. He is committed to providing quality education for refugee children, and his motivation is both personal and professional.
Mbabazi's drive stems from personal experience. He was uprooted at the age of 16 by the 1994 Rwandan genocide, finding refuge in Congo's Panzi and Katana camps. He continued his journey across Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe before settling in Cameroon. Despite these hardships, Mbabazi persevered in his education. Today, he is pursuing a doctorate in political history and international relations.
Having once been a refugee, I truly understand how education can change lives. It gives refugees the chance to aim high and dream anew. --Mbabazi Mugemana, Refugee UN Volunteer and National Education Assistant with UNHCR, Cameroon
Working closely with the Protection section in Yaoundé, Mbabazi focuses on providing refugee children with equitable access to quality education. This objective is in line with the global strategy of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Refugee Education 2030: A Strategy for Refugee Inclusion.
This has led to the development of a platform to track and support former students in their transition to professional life. As a result, 2,896 students were reached in the 2022-2023 academic year, including 12 who now can pursue higher education in Italy as part of the UNICORE project.
UNICORE, or University Corridors for Refugees, is an initiative promoted by Italian universities, in partnership with UNHCR and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which aims to increase higher education opportunities for refugees in selected African countries.
Mbabazi also contributes to the German Albert Einstein Initiative for Academic Refugees (DAFI), a scholarship programme for refugees wishing to pursue undergraduate studies. This year, 92 young refugees have benefited from the DAFI program under his guidance.
Since joining the UNHCR team in Cameroon, Mbabazi has played a key role in enhancing our reputation in the education sector. In addition, his efforts have significantly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the DAFI scholarship program. His dedication and skill have truly amplified our positive impact. -- Pascal Blaise Sol Mankono, UN Volunteer Assistant Education Officer with UNHCR, Cameroon
Currently, 193 UN Volunteers serve with UNHCR in 14 countries of West and Central Africa, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and Mauritania.