Your job title:
Your organization name:
When was your organization founded?
In what city, town, or region are you located?Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Dowa, Malawi
In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?Dowa, Malawi
In which countries does your organization currently operate?
Why are you applying for The Elevate Prize?
The Elevate Prize funding and support will provide a great platform for Tumaini Letu to expand its visibility that will potentially attract new partners and funding opportunities to help advance its mission.
Secondly, Tumaini Letu will benefit from being part of a network of global heroes, strengthening the organization’s capacity through peer to peer learning and connections with like-minded leaders.
In addition, Tumaini Letu seeks to augment programs that strive to promote and support the economic, social and cultural inclusion of refugees in Malawi so that the refugees are integrated, empowered, self-reliant and have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the refugee and host community. Through this funding, Tumaini Letu will scale up its interventions in refugee rights advocacy, poverty alleviation, vocational education and job creation.
Lastly, the funding will help with organizational capacity development in terms of Human Resource, Infrastructure and Technology.
Tell us about YOU:
In 2008 I was forced to flee from my home country the Democratic Republic of Congo due to political persecution, and I now live at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi. Due to the limitations and discrimination I faced as a refugee I envisioned creating an inclusive, equitable and extended community where refugees are embraced, and able to fulfill their true potential.
In 2012 I founded Tumaini Letu (Swahili for “Our Hope”), a nonprofit which promotes social, cultural and economic inclusion for refugees in Malawi by reducing poverty among refugees through job skills development, provision of startup capital and access to markets, the organization also promotes cultural exchange among refugees and the host community using art and culture. Its flagship program is the annual Tumaini Festival, which transforms Dzaleka into an international touristic destination, drawing thousands of people to the Camp to celebrate peaceful co-existence.
Tumaini Letu’s goal is to alleviate poverty among refugees living in Malawi, with aspirations to directly impact 20,000 refugees over a period of 5 years. We will achieve this through entrepreneurship and creative skills development, provision of startup capital and providing access to both physical and digital markets.
Pitch your organization.
There are an estimated 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Nearly 1 person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution. In Malawi, there are approximately 48,000 refugees and asylum seekers living at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp. 96% of the population at Dzaleka lives below the moderate to ultra-poverty line (UNHCR, 2019). The high poverty levels in Dzaleka are due to Malawi’s encampment policy which among other things restricts refugees from freedom of movement and the right to employment outside the Camp creating conditions of poverty and dependence on aid.
Tumaini Letu, addresses the problem by promoting integration of refugees in Malawi and empowers them through provision of entrepreneurship skills, startup capitals, and access to markets. Tumaini also creates jobs, enhances creative talents among young refugees and provides connections and opportunities in and outside the camp. Tumaini organizes the world’s first multicultural festival within a refugee camp, which serves as the main source of revenue for Dzaleka. During the festival refugees are given an opportunity to generate income hosting guests in their houses. Additionally, the festival promotes peaceful coexistence between refugees and the host community and provides opportunities for cultural exchange.
Describe what makes your work innovative.
Refugee camps are portrayed as places of poverty and indignity.Tumaini Letu’s work is unique because it changes the image of Dzaleka Refugee Camp from a place of desolation to a place of celebration. Tumaini Letu shifts a seemingly intractable power dynamic – where refugees are frequently the passive subjects of media portrayals that use images of poverty to elicit charity. We give a platform to refugees allowing them to advocate for themselves, building their economy, showcasing and monetizing their talents and skills, and creating a positive story which resonates internationally.
Tumaini Letu’s work tackles poverty among refugees, advocating for refugee rights, amplifying refugees’ voices and changing people’s attitudes towards refugees by changing the narrative. This is done through Tumaini Festival, the world’s first international festival inside a refugee camp. Our Homestay Program supports income generation through refugees hosting visitors in their homes. Through this program, we show the world that apart from looking for shelter, refugees can also host others and openly share their space.
These programs provide refugees with seed capital to start or sustain income-generating activities, and cultivates personal pride by allowing refugees to take steps towards economic independence and self-reliance.
How and why is your organization having an impact on humanity?
Tumaini Letu’s work positively impacts humanity through its unique programs that empower and improve the livelihood of refugees. Tumaini supports refugees to become economically independent, self-reliant, socially and culturally integrated. The organization has expedited the exponential growth of businesses in the Camp and annually provides access to markets to nearly 1,500 refugee businesses. Tumaini creates approximately 1,500 jobs for the refugees to earn a living. Furthermore, Tumaini Letu provides capacity building in entrepreneurship and hospitality to 1,000 refugees and indirectly benefits 1,000 households. Dzaleka Refugee Camp relies on the Tumaini Festival as the main source of revenue helping the community generate over $150,000 annually.
Having escaped persecution and atrocities of war, refugees face exclusion and discrimination in Malawi. Tumaini Letu´s programs are community driven programs that offer solutions to the needs of the Dzaleka Refugee Community. Our advocacy work has prompted policy makers and the general public to call for the review of the encampment policy in Malawi which prohibits refugees rights to work, education and freedom of movement. Tumaini Letu brings hope to refugees by providing solutions to the sociology-economic, cultural and political problems that they face.
Select the key characteristics of the community your organization is impacting.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your organization address?
Which of the following categories best describes your work?
Economic Opportunity & Livelihoods
Mr Trésor Nzengu Mpauni Founder, Director, Tumaini Letu