Currently, most refugees
live in the cities
rather than in the refugee camps.
We represent over 60 percent
of the number of refugees globally.
With the majority of refugees
living in urban areas,
there is a strong need
for a paradigm shift and new thinking.
Rather than wasting money
on building walls,
it would be better to spend on programs
to help refugees to help themselves.
We always have to leave behind
all our possessions.
But not our skills and knowledge.
If allowed to live a productive life,
refugees can help themselves
and contribute to the development
of their host country.
I was born in the city called Bukavu,
in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I am the fifth-born
in a family of 12 children.
My father, a mechanic by profession,
worked very hard to send me to school.
Just like other young people,
I had a lot of plans and dreams.
I wanted to complete my studies,
get a nice job,
marry and have my own children
and support my family.
But this didn't happen.
War in my homeland forced me
to flee to Uganda in 2008,
nine years ago.
My family joined
a steady exodus of refugees
who settled in Uganda's capital, Kampala.
In my country,
I lived already in the city,
and we felt Kampala was much better
than a refugee camp.
Refugees in the cities
have always been denied
even after their recognition
by UNHCR in 1997.
In addition to the poverty problem
we were confronted with
as the local urban poor,
we were facing challenges
due to our refugee status,
such as a language barrier.
In Congo, the official language is French.
But in Uganda, it is English.
We didn't have access
to education and health.
We were exposed to harassment,
Humanitarian organizations mostly focused
on the formal settlement in rural areas,
and there was nothing in place for us.
But we didn't want handouts.
We wanted to work and support ourselves.
I joined my other two colleagues in exile
and set up an organization
to support other refugees.
YARID -- Young African Refugees
for Integral Development --
began as a conversation
within the Congolese community.
We asked the community
how they could organize themselves
to solve these challenges.
The YARID programs for support
evolve in stages,
progressing from soccer community,
to English language
to sewing livelihoods.
The soccer changed the energy
of unemployed youth
and connected people
from different communities.
The free English classes
help empower people to engage
with the Ugandan community,
allowing them to get to know
their neighbors and sell wares.
The vocational training program
offers livelihood skills,
and with them, important opportunities
for economic self-reliance.
We've seen so many families
We've seen who no longer needs our help.
As YARID's programs have expanded,
it has included an increasing
range of nationalities --
Congolese, Rwandan, Burundian,
Somalis, Ethiopian, South Sudanese.
Today, YARID has supported
over 3,000 refugees across Kampala
and continues supporting more.
Refugees want empowerment, not handouts.
We know our community better than anyone.
We understand the challenges
and opportunities we face
to become self-reliant.
I know better than anyone
that initiatives created by refugees work.
They need to be internationally
recognized and supported.
Give us the support we deserve,
and we will pay you back with interest.
Thank you so much.