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Brownkey, advocate of refugee women

€715 of €15,000 goal

Raised by 12 people in 6 months
I first read about Brownkey early 2017 in an article by the Deutsche Welle.  I found this young outspoken woman very  brave and inspiring. A few months later I contacted her and this is how we started working together remotely to create this campaign. Nadifo Abdullahi a.k.a. Brownkey  is a refugee woman, living in the largest refugee complex in Africa, but first and foremost she is an advocate for Girls and Women's rights, fighthing against Female Genital Mutilation and for Girls' education.

Here is her story : 

Brownkey in her home in Dadaab.


Brownkey was born in 1993 in Dagahaley camp, a little after her parents were forced to leave Somalia at the outbreak of the civil war in 1991 . Dagahaley is one of the four camps that constitute Dadaab Refugee Complex, housing 239,595 refugees and asylum seekers, according to UNHCR , of whom 96.21% are from Somalia.
She has lived there all her life. "This is the place I was born and raised in. It’s my home. I know I am Somalian by birth, but technically I can’t say I am, because I was born in Kenya and I can’t go to Somalia due to the situation. I am Dadaabian," explains Brownkey.

 
Dadaab refugee complex

According to her in Dadaab child marriage is common, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is praised and child labor is usual.  
As per the definition given by the World Health Organization, "FGM comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."
FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15 and has no health benefits. On the contrary it can cause severe bleeding and severe health problems as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where the practice of FGM is concentrated.

FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Due to these retrogressive cultural practices that directly impact their health and mobility many girls end up dropping out of school, which has therefore contributed to the set back of women in Dadaab camps. This alarming situation urged Brownkey to advocate for women's rights hoping to liberate them from these ancestral and barbaric practices.

She first started her advocacy work with a Facebook page thanks to a computer that was given to her by a friend. She also visited households and schools inside the refugee camps to talk to the girls and deliver one message “stay in school”.  
“As women would gather for the neighborhood forums to discuss about the food ration and what new thing UNHCR had brought in, I would in the process introduce the topics of importance of girl child education,” explains Brownkey.

Brownkey speaking to young girls in the camps' schools

There is a Somali saying that says that there is no use taking a girl to school as her education will stay in the kitchen. "People in my community actually believe this" explains Brownkey.
But she, on the other hand, firmly believes that education is the only weapon that a girl can wield against these retrogressive practices and that would ultimately bring change to her community. Armed with a strong ambition, she completed high school, a rare and difficult achievement for girls in Dadaab and she has since then earned a university diploma in Community Development.

After forming women advocacy groups against the menace of female genital mutilation, she expanded her scope of action through a blog that she created in 2016 hoping to gather support and in turn reach out to a wider audience. 


While Brownkey acknowledges that her criticism of the "traditional values" is not supported by all and that she has often been accused of importing a "western ideology", today she has nonetheless become a community leader, inspiring younger women and girls to follow in her footsteps and bring about change in their own communities.

Drawing on her experience, she has now established her own non profit organisation 'Brownkey Foundation ' that advocates for refugee-led solutions with a special emphasis on issues affecting women and girls. 
Today Brownkey defines herself as a blogger and an activist, an anti FGM campaigner and an advocate for Women's Rights & Human Rights. Her main objective is to counter negative cultural beliefs and promote girls' education in order to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls in her community, hopefully creating a national and global ripple effect. Her hope is that her organization will grow to become a leading advocate for including refugees themselves in decision making by governments, and the broader aid community.

A strong-willed woman, she has gained credibility and visibility and is often invited to participate in a number of fora to speak about her initiatives. She has already won a number of Awards for her work and courage and is currently nominated for the Community Hero of the Year at the Extraordinary African Woman Achiever 
(EAWA) Awards and Business Summit 2017/2018.
Needless to say, we expect many more to come !

Brownkey (wearing a yellow head scarf) campaigning against FGM in Nairobi, Kenya.


Through this fundraising campaign I hope to bring as many of us on board to help support Brownkey in the outstanding and essential work she does for all refugee women and the wider community.


Below is the message from Brownkey to explain what the donations will be used towards : 

- directly funding the education of about 200 young girls in the refugee camp,
- carrying out tailored community outreach programs, 
- creating awareness on the importance of girls' education and sensitize the communities to end FGM, 
- developing Information Education Communication (IEC) materials to influence behavior change and enable us to hold meetings, workshops and trainings with stakeholders who will help in the Anti-FGM campaigns and promotion of Girl child Education .

All the money raised in this campaign is raised on my own personal bank account in France and will then be sent via an international bank transfer onto the account of Brownkey's husband (as a refugee Brownkey can not have her own bank account), who lives in the US and is a Board member of Brownkey Foundation.


Thank you for your support!



This story was written by putting together many pieces of my personal correspondence with Brownkey along with information taken from a variety of articles published about her and her advocacy work. All the photos used in this campaign are either photos sent to me personally by Brownkey or photos borrowed from these various online publications.
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Raised by 12 people in 6 months
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