It takes a village to raise a child
— African Proverb

The Learn and Innovate with New Kiwis (LINK) project is the brainchild of Martine Udahemuka but it was so aptly delivered, on World Refugee Day 2019, by a tribe of storytellers, event planners, workshop designers and facilitators, chefs, judges, sponsors and supporters. And of course the willing, open-minded, insightful and energetic participants breathed life into LINK. The vision is that every city with former-refugees in New Zealand hosts a LINK hui on World Refugee Day, every year.

What is LINK?

LINK is a community-led platform for people who want to collaborate with one of the most resilient communities in New Zealand: The former-refugees community, New Kiwis, to re-imagine and rebuild their lives. The co-design and solutions-focused event is held every year during the World Refugee Day period. Led by experienced workshop designers, participants work in small groups on ideas to address critical resettlement challenges. At the end of the event, the most promising idea is selected by a panel of judges and receives some support to get it off the ground.

The 2019 themes were:
1. Securing meaningful employment and business opportunities
2. Enhancing social cohesion and connections in Aotearoa

The Why?

When miss Udahemuka was 11-years-old her beloved country was turned into a bloodbath, overnight. In the blink of an eye, her family lost everything they had ever known and millions of her countrymen perished. Being a refugee is an experience she would never wish on her enemy. Her family was lucky enough to find a second home in New Zealand and have resettled successfully.

Martine believes she’s been given a second-chance in life and wants to do her part in making the resettlement journey for other new New Zealanders the best it can be.

The challenge

Unfortunately for some New Kiwis, a successful transition into their new lives can be a struggle. The young find it hard to make friends and balance their two or more cultures, the adults struggle to secure meaningful income streams and struggle to navigate other systems such as Housing, Health and Education. The New Kiwis, young and old, can especially find it challenging to build lasting social connections. A successful resettlement experience requires the effort of the new community and the host community. When this doesn’t happen, the new communities risk being marginalized which can contribute to poor outcomes for the former-refugees and for their new society.

The opportunity

There are untapped opportunities for the New Kiwis and the host community to genuinely work together towards successful resettlement. LINK bridges both worlds. LINK provides a purposeful community-led platform for former refugees and the New Zealand host community to co-design innovative solutions that enhance the experiences of the New Kiwis in Aotearoa.

Expected outcomes

• To enable partnership between the New Kiwis and established communities
• To encourage innovation in the resettlement sector
• To improve social connections and understanding among communities in Aotearoa
• To have action-focused gatherings/hui with tangible outcomes
• To empower former refugees by putting them in the driving seat of their own destiny
• To contribute to improved integration and resettlement outcomes of New Kiwis, and thus benefiting New Zealand
• For LINK to be a permanent feature of the World Refugee Day in New Zealand