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It all started when…

In early 2015, as Burundian refugees began settling in Mahama Refugee Camp, three friends met in Kigali, Rwanda and discussed ways they could help. The Refugee Empowerment and Support Taskforce was born from discussions between Edward Makara, a Rwandan student, and two American volunteers: Ryan Bose and Jacob Sprang. Since 2015, Edward Makara has been working with a community of Burundian refugees living in Mahama.

Through his “shoulder-to-shoulder” model, he organized a small community leadership board within the camp, comprised of refugees interested in improving the quality of life in Mahama Camp.  After achieving 501(c)(3) status in 2016, the REST and its Rwandan partner, the Disaster Response Initiative (DRI), began working with Burundian refugees by funding community-led projects in Mahama Camp. To date, the REST has organized a tree-planting campaign, a women’s sewing collective, and a high school scholarship program.