Empowering lives digitally

Ages 17 to 50, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The cohort of 19 students who graduated from LEAP@JRS’s E3 digital marketing course on 14 October 2021 have proven, virtually, that no obstacle is too great to overcome.

E3, which stands for Education for Economic Empowerment, is a core training programme of the LEAP@JRS initiative and seeks to equip asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs) with certified IT skills. The 3-month online digital marketing course includes an express module Digital Skills for Business, and a more intensive professional module Digital Skills for Design. E3 modules are designed and delivered by qualified trainers from JRS’s network of academic partners.

“We were very proud to present our students with their certificates at our virtual graduation ceremony in October 2021. Of our 19 graduates, about 68% have obtained internship stints with JRS’s business partners who are willing to mentor and help our students further develop their skills.

“We are grateful for our generous donor the Diana Koh Foundation through the Community Foundation of Singapore, our academic partner, Make The Change, a social enterprise by M.A.D School and our passionate volunteers for paving the way with us to make a difference in the lives of ASRs,” said Ms Lai Suyim, the chairperson of the LEAP@JRS subcommittee.

Initial funding received from the Diana Koh foundation enables JRS not only to run the training courses but also provide a small stipend for the ASR students that would help to cover some basic living expenses, thus enabling them to better focus on the course. Students who have successfully completed the course will be given certificates of attendance by M.A.D School, as well as their very own professionally curated portfolios that they can use for internship applications. Under the E3 programme, JRS aims to train as many as 225 ASR students over three years.

“The first course was a wonderful experience. I learned many important and basic designs that I didn’t know before. The interesting part of the second course was about typography and how to use shapes in designing. Now I can design for social media and advertising. I have asked three of my colleagues to join this course and they have registered themselves for the next batch.” said Ms ZG, 23, from Afghanistan, who is based in Bogor, Indonesia with her family.

It was during this dark hour of my life that an opportunity to enrol in the programme arose. I really enjoyed every moment of it as it kept me busy, switched my mind from despair and hopelessness to hope.”

– Mr S, 50, from Zimbabwe

“The digital marketing course came at the most opportune time for me. I was losing hope in any prospect of early settlement, my wife has not been feeling well and the support my family has been receiving was shrinking gradually due to COVID-19 induced financial constraints on the ASR supporters and well-wishers. It was during this dark hour of my life that an opportunity to enrol in the programme arose. I really enjoyed every moment of it as it kept me busy, switched my mind from despair and hopelessness to hope.” said Mr S, 50, from Zimbabwe, who is based in Bangkok, Thailand.

“This course has really been a life changing one for me. The training programme has equipped me with self-reliant skills that can enable me to exploit opportunities when they arise. Considering our plight as refugees, this technology-based programme is relevant as one can work remotely,” S added.

It was not just the students who had benefitted from E3 but also the trainers themselves. Ms Yenni Wijaya, Studio Director of advertising agency B.RU Collective, and Make The Change trainer shared, “It was my first time interacting with ASRs and it’s been an eye-opening and humbling experience. Considering their diverse backgrounds and the fact that some don’t speak English as their first language, I applaud their commitment and efforts to learn something that is totally new.

“I can see that some are hungry for knowledge of design principles and processes. With continual guidance from their mentors they should be able to break into the creative industry and become full-fledged designers.”

LEAP@JRS, a forward-looking initiative to nurture future-fit refugees. LEAP@JRS offers certified digital skills training, professional development and wellness programmes, as well as facilitates virtual internships for ASRs. For more information on how you can contribute to JRS’s efforts, visit LEAP@JRS or email contact@jrssg.org