Hey, my name is Merveille NKURUNZIZA, I am Burundian, it’s been 2 years and a half now since I left Burundi because of political crisis, me and my family moved to Rwanda where I met Marguerite Barankitse the founder of Maison Shalom, she offered me a scholarship to come to study in France, I am a student in international trade in Lyon, doing my internship in Ahimsa FUND. Let’s continue with your presentation,

Can you tell me who are you, what you do in your daily life, where have you met Jean François?

My name is Saba Almubaslat, I am the CEO of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, …. It’s a global learning initiative set up to facilitate partnership and collaboration opportunities to enable people to prepare for and respond to crises in their communities. Local people are the first responders. Investing in them means they are better prepared to respond in the critical first hours when most lives are lost.

I live in London where the Global Academy Office is, but we work in different areas and have Academy Centres in the Philippines, Kenya, Middle East, Bangladesh and soon in Indonesia. I’ve been working in  the field of Humanitarianism for more than 22 years now, and most of my experience was gained through my work as a responder to crises in different countries and context around the world.  You feel humbled when you are out there providing support to people when they are going through hard times.

With my degree in engineering, I had to go through a lot of learning so I am fit for a shift I decided in my career path. I had to go back to university to get my MA in strategic planning and international development. I met Jean Francois for the first time we were in Dubai, attending DIHAD. We were both invited by  Mukesh Kapila to join a panel he chaired and it’s a great honour and pleasure to be here because I’ve never imagined I will be having a conference where I discuss faith and religion and find the hidden link between it and my daily work.

Throughout my career, I responded to so many different crises.  When there is a crisis, the international community call for response and you join a response team, to play a particular role.  my last mission was in response to the Syria Crisis on the Jordanian side. My team and I were at the border receiving refugees as they cross the southern Syrian- Jordanian border, seeking refuge from the violence they were exposed to in their own countries. in a situation like these organizations have to provide almost everything you can think of to refugees, so they can survive; this includes shelter, food, health care education, protection and more.

In your academy, what kind of training do you offer?

To ensure that quality learning is made as accessible as possible, we have a platform KAYA, wherever you are in the world you can access our courses online, get the training, get the certificate and prepare yourself as a responder in your own country. If knowledge is power, we have to offer it to as many as possible. We want to make sure that leadership becomes a meaningful practice, which can translate to action of positive impact in what you are doing.

When it comes to local populations to solve their countries’ problems it seems that they want to restrain themselves from being involved in those matters, how do you succeed to boost the self-esteem or self-confidence in themselves and make them ready to respond?

We are all politicians in one way or another!  We have to remain engaged, in whichever possible way. We should find productive ways to engage with politics and politicians. If we are accusing them to be a group of people caring for themselves and not for the mass, we need to remember that we are equally responsible. They make it into these decision making positions because we voted for them, or because we chose not to practice our right to vote for who believe is best placed to defend our rights and represent us.

Someone may ask how can people be educated to make the right choice?  What we really have to do is to start from a very early age, educating children how to have an opinion, how to communicate your thinking in a productive way, how to engage in a dialogue and how to create common ground.

Which barriers do you meet in your work, what do you think can boost your success and how do you think people you meet here can contribute to your carrier?

Any work has its barriers… some of the challenges I face and have to deal with are,  

– creating awareness to the  importance of having access to knowledge; I believe that knowledge has power and I take it as my responsibility to ensure people wherever we are working believe that they have that ability to change things

– another challenge, which is common to all organisations in our sector is funding.  How can we shift the dialogue from us as an organisation going  to the private sector “begging” for money to having products that are worth investing in because we have to finance to keep them going

– sustainability of knowledge beyond the training,  how do you make sure at the national local level, people are organized in a way that allows them to put their newly gained skills into practice when needed?

For Ahimsa to bring us together we have a very scattered point of light and let’s make it a very strong and shine and beam of light, we do have different networks and skills, if we are generous let’s open doors for each other and share our knowledge our expertise, today when I leave I have at least 5 contacts of people that I will connect to other influential people to help on their projects, and I hope that there are others who will offer me the same.

Which recommendations can you give to the youth according to what you do:

What I can tell the youth is to engage and make sure they participate in whichever productive way possible.

– Demand to know, it’s your right to know and to be, that mindset that I matter, I am important, I can contribute is something that I encourage young people to believe in, you will not sit and wait for things to happen, stand up and do something, if you desire a life make it happen, Demand! you are created for a purpose so live that purpose

Can you share your world vision in 30 years?

We should avoid anything that divides us, and invest in creating common grounds that accepts and respects all forms and shapes of diversity, even when in disagreement.

Thank you, it was a pleasure to meet you and a great honour to talk to you, enjoy the rest of the forum and have a safe trip back.