Jean Marie Ishimwe is a 23-year-old youth advocate in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a refugee from Rwanda. Today, he is using his coordination and motivational skills to mobilize young people to hand out food, masks and information about the COVID-19 pandemic. “The struggles that I’ve faced as a refugee...give me motivation to continue doing the work that I do,” he says. 

Learn more about the essential contributions of refugees like Jean Marie during COVID-19 and beyond.

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Video Transcript

Jean Marie, Refugee Youth Advocate Community Leader:

Hard times don’t create heroes. It is in hard times when the hero in us is revealed.

It was important as a person in the community, as a refugee myself, to mobilize youths and other people to respond to COVID by giving out food and also give out information about COVID-19.

We are from Rwanda, currently living in Kenya as refugees.

The community is refugees and some of them also local Kenyans.

These are people who have underlying problems. They are people who are sick. People who are traumatized. People who are jobless.

You can imagine having to cope with being safe of COVID-19 or just being able to survive. The struggles that I’ve faced as a refugee, those struggles give me motivation to continue doing the work that I do.

We’re not doing it for ourselves, we’re doing it out of humanity. I am a refugee and a youth advocate.