My experience of the BHER project and online forum
It has been a great experience participating in the BHER project, a project I feel is very necessary and long overdue. I do not think that a few years ago the women in Dadaab, nor I, would have ever envisaged communicating on an online transnational learning facility or forum that would aid the Dadaab women pursue their post-secondary education.
What is remarkable about the BHER project is the unprecedented opportunities and possibilities it creates for women students. This project initiates much needed educational hope and a future in a challenging environment. The BHER project is ideal in bringing higher education and opportunities to the women of Dadaab, transcending barriers and borders through its online community. It is encouraging to be a part of a project that actively promotes women’s education and helps redress the inequalities they experience in camps. There is a famous saying in Africa that ‘educate a woman and you educate a nation’. Again touching on the possibilities of this project as it expands, as the women pursue their studies, with our aid and graduate, one can imagine the ripple effect it will have within their camp and greater community. There are many that they will inspire and most importantly, they will have confidence in themselves to pursue better careers.
At its core, this project and online forum gives the women hope and a realistic way to pursue their education and build their future. There is a direct action plan and pathway that the women can follow and above all, through the online community, there is a nurturing and supportive network ready to assist when needed. As an online community of women with a shared goal, invested in seeing the Dadaab women succeed, we work together. The Dadaab women can connect with us online as professionals in the field, as we offer advice and educational support. I think the mentoring and support we offer through the online community is highly encouraging to the women of Dadaab as they know that someone on the other side of the world cares and is routing for their success.
We, as professionals in the field, are also learning a lot from these admirable women. What is most impressive is their enthusiasm and perseverance towards their work, given the difficulty in learning academic English and other demanding research skills. Additionally, these women have to balance their educational goals with the reality of living in a camp; its dangers and limitations as well as balancing everyday household tasks that, as women, are part of daily responsibility. Despite these challenges, these women students remain thirsty to learn and constantly reach out on the forum for more information or a causal talk.
I look forward to being able to communicate better and on deeper levels with the women of Dadaab and to supporting them reach their educational and life goals. There are undoubtedly many challenges the BHER project will have to deal with as it unfolds, particularly challenges surrounding Internet access – something that will allow us to better communicate and assist the women. I am excited to be a part of the online community as I feel that the supportive environment is crucial in assisting the women attain their overall educational goals. The Dadaab women have 24/7 access to equally ambitious and hardworking women who have their best interest at heart and, perhaps most importantly, are themselves examples of how educational dreams can become reality.