I am really humbled to introduce this #ServiceSpotlight. I connected with Amisi Damiano, executive director of Solidarity of Refugee Women for the Social Welfare (SOFERES) some time ago. Amisi and SOFERES are doing life changing work at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi and it is an honor to bring you the story in Amisi’s voice.
Liz: Let’s start in true Smile Project fashion. Give me a "Happiness is:
Amisi: Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When I provide support to someone in need, I feel good, proud, excited, relieved, or satisfied.
Liz: What is your project/organization?
Amisi: The Solidarity of Refugee Women for the Social Welfare (SOFERES) is a refugee-led, volunteer-based, not for-profit, non-governmental charity organization of women and girls from diverse backgrounds including young women and girls living with disabilities, women living with HIV, and women with no income. It was founded in 2013 by a group of refugees in Dzaleka Camp, survivors of various civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia who have experienced different forms of gender-based violence, exploitation and abuse in their families and communities. SOFERES is committed to empowering the most vulnerable and highly marginalized women and girls to claim their rights, challenge discriminatory attitudes, behavior, and harmful traditional practices; and overcome poverty and other hardships.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Amisi: In different refugee camps around the world, especially in Malawi, refugees do not have the right for employment and freedom of movement. As the conditions within the refugee camps continue to worsen: the spread of the novel COVID-19 expands, food aid is lacking, housing and sanitary conditions are poor, etc.
However, despite these limitations and harsh conditions, we have founded our own organization as a solution to the challenges refugees face in Dzaleka camp and surroundings. We start a positive cycle in which refugees, especially women and girls, are considered not as simple recipients of services and support, but as actors of change for themselves and their communities.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Amisi: The root definition of the word “service” seems to be “to provide.” Providing support to vulnerable and highly marginalized people in the way you would want to be provided, providing your skills that are needed by the public, providing dedications to God are all examples of the word service.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Amisi: There's lots of ways we can work together! People and friends may get involved by volunteering with us, making a donation, or fundraising for our organization. You can visit our website for more details at: http://www.soferes.com/getinvolved.html . In addition, you can get involved by following our social media platforms at: https://www.facebook.com/SOFERES/ or https://twitter.com/SolidarityofRe1
Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?
Amisi: At SOFERES, we are really proud to work with so many dedicated humanitarians around the world, and we’d appreciate the opportunity to make a moment today!
Liz: Do you have a favorite quote to leave us with?
“Do your little bits of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”