Position: Executive Director and Founder
Organization: Solidarity and Advocacy in Crisis (SAVIC)
Muzabel Welongo is the Director of Solidarity & Advocacy with Vulnerable Individuals in Crisis (SAVIC), an organization he founded in 2010 to promote education, economic independence and reproductive health awareness among young people. Since 2012, SAVIC has provided information on sexual and reproductive health to more than 2,000 adolescent girls and boys in Kakuma, and has provided functional literacy, communicative English lessons, and vocational skills to more than 1,800 refugees. A refugee himself, Muzabel’s work with refugees has been instrumental in promoting education for all while helping create greater spaces for integration of girls in education, promoting socio-economic self-reliance and reducing unintended pregnancies.
“Muzabel works tirelessly in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya to ensure that adolescents have access to FP information and services. As a leader and trailblazer, he represents the potential for transformative change in a diverse crisis-affected setting.“
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.
I am the founder of SAVIC, is a youth-led organization that promotes family planning information and services, as well as creating livelihoods among refugee youth in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.
We provide SRH information for youth aged 14 to 18, through a 3-month curriculum program and training of Peer Educators. We facilitate access to condoms and contraceptives for young girls to through referrals to local health facilities, with hopes to establish our own Health Resource Center in the near future. We also train parents on communicating with adolescents on sexual matters. More than 4,000 youth have completed our 3-month curriculum, trained 84 peer educators who have reached more than 6,000 youth.
What sparked your passion for family planning?
I have spent most part of my life in a refugee camp or in internal displacement, and I have witnessed women and girls being used as a tool of war. Most refugee girls drop out of school at a very young age, are abandoned by families, and face huge economic burdens and health complications due to unintended pregnancies. My passion came out of these real problems, and I wanted adolescent girls to have access to family planning information and services, and help them regain agency over their bodies.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?
The greatest challenges I have faced in my work are the cultural barriers and myths in most refugee communities. In addition to lack of a single health facility in Kakuma providing youth-friendly FP services, it is traditionally unacceptable based for adolescents to talk about sex. My work is to advocate for the SRH rights of these girls, and negotiating change among different health providers to accommodate more youth-friendly services in Kakuma.
What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?
For the youth in Kakuma there are not health facilities providing youth-friendly family planning services. In addition to the traditional myths about family planning, some parents support their sexually active girls to seek family planning services. Lack of facilities is therefore the challenge, as most health centers are meant for adults. At SAVIC, we are building partnerships with local agencies to create Family planning access strategies friendlier for young people.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
My dream in the next five years is to work towards promoting the rights of young people to education, reproductive health, and sustainable livelihoods. Using my experience as a lifetime refugee and a social change agent, I wish to push for policy changes and join the world of philanthropists, policy makers, and innovators to challenge the status quo and promote reforms regarding provision of Family Planning to the youth, and helping refugee youth regain full agency over their lives.