This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant with additional content from Joselyne Niyizigama John, President and Founder of the Dzaleka Project.
What does education mean to you? For Joselyne Niyizigama John, a fourth year Health Sciences student at Simon Fraser University, education means one essential thing: freedom. A native of Burundi in East Central Africa, Joselyne was forced to flee from her home at the same age that most children enter the first grade. She and her family of twelve would spend the next fourteen years in refugee camps, first in Tanzania and then Malawi, while a civil war raged in Burundi.
“When you are in the camps, all you can think about is how you can’t go anywhere”, she explains. Despite working hard to complete her primary and secondary schooling while in the refugee camps, Joselyne grew up knowing that her prospects for further education were limited if she were to remain in the camp.
“Refugees living in the camps have three options”, she says, “they can live in the camp and forget about exploring other parts of the country; they can go back to their country of origin; or they can be sponsored by a community or a country that is willing to commit to making a difference in their lives.”