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Raphael Ndabaga

Raphael Ndabaga

The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Biography by Divine Irakoze
Photo by Primo Luanda Bauma


Raphael Ndabaga was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and is now living in Malawi as a refugee. He is a founder and CEO of Volunteer Social Workers. He decided to create this non-profit organization after recovering from his failure to go to Canada under the Student Refugee Program of the World University Service of Canada.

In August 2017, he was awaiting his flight to Canada to further his education after securing a spot in the WUSC/SRP scholarship program. However, his journey was cancelled four days before departure. The only thing he was told was that the WUSC would keep confidential their reason for withdrawing him. When he received this letter, he didn’t believed it was true until the day his fellow students travelled to Canada and left him behind in the Dzaleka refugee camp.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCH) provided a psychotherapist to give counselling support to him. Luckily, Vafa Hakimi, his counsellor, did all she could, and he finally recovered after a full month of counselling services. “When recovering, I understood that trauma is curable.”

In September 2017, the Jesuit Refugee Service posted an advert seeking community members to apply for a trauma class and he applied. Soon after completing the course, he decided to create Volunteer Social Workers, a community- based organization with a vision to transform the Dzaleka cCommunity into a stress-free community.

Since its creation, Volunteer Social Workers has helped the community through various projects including Healing Circles, and Community Outreach Exercises, as well as providing counselling services. Further, Volunteer Social Workers runs agribusiness projects, such as the cultivation of maize, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and beans. They also have pigs and laying chickens with the host community at Mengwe Village.

Finally, Volunteer Social Workers has done advocacy and generated money to support teen mothers with tailoring machines and youths recovering from alcohol-abuse with popcorn-machines. Now, all these beneficiaries are self-reliant.