RFL’s Inclusive Approach to Family Reconnection

In line with the principle of inclusivity, the Restoring Family Links (RFL) Program, funded by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has leveraged internet connectivity services to connect beneficiaries in the Dadaab Refugee Camps who have different abilities, particularly those with hearing impairments, with their families through video calls. This innovative approach has significantly eased communication by enabling sign language conversations. 

One of the beneficiaries of this service is Mohamed Abdi, A 25-year-old resident of the IFO1 refugee camp. Mohammed was born deaf and experienced challenges communicating with his family in Somalia due to the lack of access to Wi-Fi and the high cost of data bundles for video calls. Fortunately, he learned about the RFL program through Yunis Mohamed, an RFL volunteer in the IFO camp. Yunis explained how the program could help Mohamed reconnect with his extended family in Somalia.

Through the service, Mohamed can now contact family members he hasn’t seen in years, using sign language via WhatsApp video calls. Additionally, these internet services have allowed him to join social media groups for the hearing-impaired, facilitating communication, information sharing, and opportunities exploration, such as job advertisements. This program has also rekindled a dream in him.

<em>Mohamed Abdi a resident of the IFO1 refugee camp on a call with his family back in Somalia <strong>Photo John BundiKenya Red Cros<strong><em>s

‘I dream of becoming a sign language instructor and now with access to Wi-Fi I watch tutorials on YouTube to gain more knowledge.’  He Says

Timiro Abdinoor, the RFL Coordinator in three Dadaab Refugee Camps, shared insights into the program’s implementation. They have a dedicated team of 43 volunteers and 4 staff members who employ various RFL tools like Red Cross messages, Trace requests, and Snapshot booklets for South Sudan refugees. The volunteers receive capacity-building support, including training on the Red Cross organizational structure, principles, community engagement, and accountability.

The Annual RFL training workshop aims to empower volunteers and staff, enhancing reporting and standardizing services for refugees and asylum seekers. The program also exemplifies the organization’s commitment to inclusivity and innovation, providing invaluable services to refugees with diverse needs. 

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Kelvin Njenga Digital Transformation Officer

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