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Empowering refugees in Dadaab: Gladys’ Story

Gladys Gaba Cyrus is 42 years old. She came to Dadaab from Yei in South Sudan in 1995 after fleeing the country after she was involved in student strikes against Sharia law. Gladys is a single mother of five and her husband left her alone in the camp to return to South Sudan. Here is what Gladys has to say about her experience living as a refugee in Dadaab and how CARE has made a difference in her life:

CARE is a grandmother of refugees in Dadaab. When I first came I joined a women's group through CARE and we were given a loan to start a tie-dye business as well as the materials and dyes that we needed. CARE also supported us as a group after with a scrap collecting business. I have learned a lot through CARE. I was elected general chair leader for youth, because I was trained in leadership skills through CARE. I didn’t know I had the skills to lead, but those around me noticed and told me I should become a leader. Now, I am able to stand and speak for myself. I am able to care for my children and educate them. My firstborn is now in Nairobi in university after finishing sschool and working with CARE.

I appreciate what CARE has done for women, especially me, and I hope one day I am able to escape refugee life and support myself and my family. Even though I am a single mother, I am not defeated in life. There are a lot of women who don’t know there rights and what to do and they need support. Women have been the victims in every society because we are vulnerable and we need to keep nurturing those who are down at the bottom and bring them up with education. When I came I was a student, I had never worked and here I have learnt business, how to work and how to balance it with my family and how to help my community with ideas. If I go back to my country – if there is peace – I am sure I will make some changes to the women, children and youth and even those that need advice as I have had so many trainings. We are tired of refugee life – living under this hot sun. My children were born in refugee life and have grown in refugee life. 25 years in the same place – your mind does not develop.


CARE is the lead agency under the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in the areas of water and hygiene, food distribution, and formal education in refugee camps along the Somali border which house a population of more than 300,000 refugees. We have been working in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya for 25 years supporting refugees.

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