Episode 6: Nerves of steel

UNHCR officer, Yonna Tukundane, explains how the progressive policies in Uganda are enabling refugees to thrive, while Jonaliese tells us what makes the difference between success and failure.

“Your mindset is what makes us live.”

Supporting refugees to succeed

Olivia Nanyonga Nassiwa

Olivia Nanyonga Nassiwa, Career counselor, Skills Centre, Rwamwanja, Western Uganda.

What’s the most interesting fact, skill or story that you’ve learnt from working with refugees?

There are a lot of interesting facts and stories I have from working with refugees. It is a life changing experience and an opportunity to learn and understand youth from different cultures. Getting to know the individual, knowing their capabilities, watching them fight in a foreign land to see that they can achieve their dreams and ambitions with a lot of resilience always blows me away. I have great respect and admiration for the refugee youth I work with. Knowing that sometimes merely giving them a listening ear and giving them some advice can make a big impact in their lives that can lead them to achieving their dreams is something am willing to continue with every day and continue to support them realise their dreams in this foreign land.


Are there any times in which it is hard working with people of different nationalities? And if so, how do you get past that?

Yes, there at times when its hard working with refugees just like any other form of work, there are always some challenges it is not always smooth. What makes it different with refugees is it’s more diverse therefore there is a lot to learn. There is always an impact you’re trying to make in people’s lives. This is very fulfilling and keeps work moving on very well.

You’ve known Jonaliese for a while now – how has she changed since becoming a qualified blacksmith and a teacher to other young people like her?

Jonaliese has grown a lot. The way she carries herself and handles issues is very different from when I just met her. In fact, merely the discussions we have or the challenges she faces that she would like me to help with are different. She is now more independent, decisive and very hopeful of what lies ahead for her. She gets bigger dreams every other day but most importantly she wants to be an inspiration to others.

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All episode images: © UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau

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