Redefining the Future of Refugees in Ethiopia: A Journey of Empowerment Through Digital Skills

Samuel Negassi a Youth Refugee in Ethiopia

Amid the challenges faced by refugees in Ethiopia, including language barriers and limited opportunities, Samuel Negassi found himself at a pivotal moment in his pursuit of a better future. His determination to secure a brighter path forward became the driving force propelling him to answer the call and join the Digital Livelihoods Program—an initiative led by Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) and Na’amal, in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Designed to empower refugees, the program integrates DOT’s expertise in digital skills for sustainable livelihoods with Na’amal’s focus on cultivating essential soft skills. Leveraging a network of partners including DOT Ethiopia and DOT Jordan, Digital Livelihoods in Ethiopia aims to equip refugees with the necessary skills to access remote work opportunities in the digital economy.

“All this frustration and uncertainty forced me to seek whatever company I could, looking for work or training. Here was an opportunity for education and remote work, which I never thought was real and possible” ~ Samuel

Samuel embarked on a transformative journey, acquiring advanced ICT skills, fostering self-empowerment, engaging in experiential learning for income generation, promoting social cohesion, and contributing to economic growth in the informal sector. His path was guided by the program’s objectives aimed at bridging the opportunity gap.

Throughout the Digital Livelihoods Program, Samuel confronted daunting challenges, navigated unfamiliar terrains, and emerged empowered with advanced skills and newfound confidence. His perseverance, reflected in his dedication to mastering web programming despite initial difficulties, underscoring his resilience. Achieving proficiency in this area marked a significant milestone, allowing Samuel to envision a future where he can utilize these skills to forge a meaningful career path, rewriting the narrative of his life.

Reflecting on the intensity of the program, Samuel shares that the pace of the program was fast, and the key terminologies initially felt like another language. However, reflecting how seriously he took the opportunity, he attended the class every day and kept asking questions until he understood what was taught by heart. It was a commitment he felt he had to make. His determination became the driving force that propelled him through the challenges he encountered along his journey.

“I can now work as a web programmer and handle professional interactions confidently, which was unthinkable before Samuel asserts, highlighting the impact of the program on his skillset and confidence.

Emerging from this transformative journey, Samuel’s growth was undeniable. According to the young refugee, the Digital Livelihoods Program’s impact has surpassed his expectations. Samuel emerged not just skilled, but armed, with unyielding self-belief and a fresh outlook on opportunities in the digital domain.

Samuel shares that the program has opened doors he has been longing for but did not know how to access. He now believes that dedication and persistence are the keys to reaching goals he once thought were out of reach. 

Participants of the Digital Livelihoods Program Happy and Smilling. Redefining the Future of Refugees in Ethiopia

Training refugees in web development offers a transformative pathway, providing invaluable skills and opportunities. It is how this program is redefining the future of refugees in Ethiopia. Participants acquire expertise that unlocks doors within the tech industry, enabling career advancement and offering the potential for remote work—an invaluable asset, especially for those with limited access to traditional job markets.

To support their journey, the young participants have been equipped with essential digital devices such as laptops and internet access. With these acquired skills, 30 young refugees have the chance to achieve economic independence, fostering entrepreneurship and unleashing their creativity through innovative web-based projects.

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