The #WUSCSomeGoodNews initiative features stories of positivity and hope of people who are making a difference in Canada and around the world, particularly during this pandemic.
Lizzie Muyawa Dube
Meet Lizzie Muyawa Dube, Student Refugee Program (SRP) Officer at the WUSC country office in Lilongwe, Malawi. The SRP program strives to provide young refugees with life-changing opportunities to continue their education on Canadian campuses and build a better future for themselves and their families. Lizzie shares with us how, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, she managed to successfully interview Dzaleka Refugee Camp SRP candidates online with the help of WUSC colleagues in Malawi and Ottawa and support from the UNHCR.
The SRP Officer tells us that, at the start of the process, coordinating interviews seemed impossible: “Why impossible? First of all, COVID-19. [Second of all] interviews are [normally] supposed to be conducted at the camp.” Having to manage logistics was challenging. She and her team were unsure whether they should ask students to travel to Lilongwe and whether partner organizations would be willing to support interviews during the pandemic. Going into the camp to make the calls and conduct the interviews virtually could have been an option but there would have been the issue of an unreliable Internet connection.
Lizzie played a key role in finding the best approach for this interview process. She travelled to the camp three times to test the Internet connection, which proved to be difficult as the airtime credit to establish the Internet connection ran out very quickly as soon as a call was made. She also visited a number of nearby office spaces to see if she could find a suitable place to conduct interviews. Having had little success using these strategies, she then thought of calling her point of contact at the UNHCR office in Lilongwe to ask for assistance. Finally, Lizzie and her team got approval to use a UNHCR facility in the camp. The space worked really well for the interviews; “we knew that this was the right place for us to carry out online interviews,” says Lizzie. In addition to that, the UNHCR team offered assistance for the interview process with three of its members taking turns to support the Senior Student Refugee Program Officer in Ottawa.
In total, 68 candidates were interviewed in English or French. Three to four candidates were interviewed each day following all COVID-19 prevention measures. The Internet connection went off a few times and they had to pause the interviews for a whole week at some point, but nothing could stop the team from completing the task at hand.
“We all have learned that despite COVID-19 we can still work around it and accomplish our program goals. We all just need some positivity in life to carry on,” Lizzie tells us.
Let’s join her as she sings:
“When COVID moves to the right, you move the left.
When to the left move to the right.
Go up and down.
Go up and down.
Have some fun.
Are you also making a difference in your community? Share your story and connect with us on social media using the hashtag #WUSCSomeGoodNews.