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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Matawi Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult Education, Education, International, Promotion of International Understanding, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid

Mission: Matawi supports education, civic engagement, and leadership development in the global refugee community. Through a range of programs and initiatives, we seek to responsively identify and nurture strengths, skills, and potential for growth across the diaspora. With an awareness that refugee needs and contexts are in constant flux, we currently emphasize facilitation of access to higher education for young women; the gathering and sharing of life-stories; and cultural brokering between resettling populations and local community agencies.

Geographic areas served: Dadaab, Kenya and South-Central Maine

Donor & Volunteer Advisory

This organization's nonprofit status may have been revoked or it may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

This organization is an absolute inspiration- from the mission it carries out to the heartfelt love and energy its founders put into their cause. I support Matawi because I too believe everyone deserves an education. It's been a pleasure watching it bloom and cultivate over the years.

Amina G.

Volunteer

Rating: 3

I lived in a refugee camp in Kenya , I met matawi group by then called female schollership .By then i was seeking for schollership hence applied for it and many of my friends did the same.Fortunately i got a scholership in canada but friends who got interviewed did not make due to lack of financial support for Matawi .Dec 2010 my friend in Acadia University went for a fund raising event for Matawi and the good news is Muna ,my former class mate got sponsered in one of the kenyan top Universities

Fatumo M.

Volunteer

Rating: 3

I have expreinced a lot with Matawi Organisations. They tried to get me scholarship in the US but futile because of luck of enough funds. I was a refugee girl.
I beleive this organisation will help girls from the refugee camps if given the funds.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am very proud to serve on the Board of Matawi. I have had many volunteer and work experiences with international non-profits and can say with confidence that Matawi is a model of how to merge a challenging mission with concrete programmatic achievements. The result is an organization that fosters education and leadership opportunities in the global refugee community. This year, the organization hosted an incredible function in NYC that generated conversation and a deeper awareness of the tremendous barrier that young women in refugee camps face in accessing higher education. It was an incredibly moving and effective event.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I took part in Matawi's big benefit in the winter. It's a wonderful organization with an amazing goal. And I like that the charity puts everything into the scholarships and runs with basically no operating costs. I really hope people support it and it grows into something giant. Increasing opportunity and education for refugee women is a fantastic thing to be a part of.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got involved with Matawi through a friendship with one of the group's founders. I volunteered for the Zadie Smith/Nathan Englander event in early December 2010. It is an inspiring organization with an important mission.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am an Africanist and a development aid, humanitarian aid, human rights, and peace operations scholar. I have felt for a long time that education and women's empowerment play critical roles in all of these areas. Matawi is an organization I believe in because it focuses on its beneficiaries and does not attempt to impose values on them as a condition for help, and they do this with a view toward providing education and assistance for women from some of the most challenging backgrounds in the world.

Donor

Rating: 5

Reading about Matawi and understanding the passion behind it made it an easy decision to donate. I was very impressed after reading 'They Were Very Beautiful: Such Things Are' and knowing it's connection to Matawi.

Donor

Rating: 5

It is deeply rewarding to watch this non-profit operate in the-- more than just capable-- skilled hands of its founders. Matawi makes a tangible difference in the lives of those it benefits, also serving the greater good in a way that has the potential to change entire generations. What is perhaps most incredible is that its founders find ways to foster the organization on both the beneficiary and donor sides while remaining true to its core values: education, cooperation, and empowerment.

Board Member

Rating: 5

i have served as a board member and have watched the continued growth and success of matawi as a non profit. since the work on this non profit began, the dadaab refugee camp has almost doubled in size; thus remaining the largest refugee complex in the world. i am so gratified that there has been, during the past year, a growing awareness of matawi and continued progress and success in funding education scholarship. with refugee communities expanding all over the world, the growth and significance of matawi will also parallel this trend worldwide, establishing a framework of hope for refugee girls and women desperately in need of education and opportunity beyond the confines of camp life.

9

Donor

Rating: 5

I think this is a stunningly worthwhile charity. Any young woman who has finished high school (some 25 students a year, out of a refugee population nearing 300,000, if I understand correctly) deserves a college education and the chance to fulfill any dreams she might have.

8

Board Member

Rating: 5

Matwi is an orgnization that is involved in a number of different projects all of which are aimed at improving the lives of refugee and immigrant communities especialy young women and girls. I first got to know about Matawi when Rachel and Pati- two of the founders- visited the refugee camp where i lived. Later when they invited me to join the board of directors and sent me a link to the website I was impressed by how much effort the founders made considering the fact that the orgnization is new and that they had very little resources. Matawi is dedicated to empowering young women whose edcuation and lives are suffering because of the economic and cultural hinderances

9

Board Member

Rating: 5

Matawi is an incredible organization established by three extremely thoughtful and strategic community activists, scholars, and feminists. While Matawi has only launched its programmatic work within the past few years, its mission and vision have been meticulously crafted and deliberated upon for over eight years. The leadership team’s diverse array of skills and experiences, coupled with their vast international network, leads me to believe that this organization will create lasting impact among the global refugee community. I am particularly impressed with Matawi’s Dadaab Young Women’s Scholarship Initiative (DYWSI). This element of Matawi’s work focuses on increasing young Somali refugee women’s access to higher education—both within East Africa and the United States. As a staff member of an international foundation myself, I have witnessed numerous organizations attempting to capitalize on the “hot-ticket” development item of girl’s education. Donors are notoriously eager to fund girl’s education as it appears to be an uncomplicated and uncontroversial method of achieving women’s empowerment (as opposed to reproductive health initiatives, economic empowerment projects etc.). Matawi makes the argument that, especially when working with refugee populations, assuring girls’ access to educational opportunities is anything but uncomplicated. In fact it takes exhaustive, multi-pronged strategies to ensure that one young woman is able to attend a tertiary institution. Matawi’s strategies involve partnering with its networks to provide an array of essential services within refugee camps such as SAT preparation courses and workshops on application essays. Its staff also researches and publishes scholarly articles on the range of cultural barriers restricting young women refugee students from academic enrollment and retention. Additionally, Matawi works with college admissions offices in the United States to advocate on behalf of the applicants—opening doors for both the recipients of Matawi’s scholarships as well as all refugee applicants. In short, this is an impressive initiative. Another exciting aspect of Matawi’s work is its Memoir Initiative, which collects personal narratives from diverse community members on issues ranging from educational opportunity, forced migration, globalization, security, hardship, and family. These stories have been published as an anthology and are also utilized for interactive lesson plans for K-12 students in Lewiston, ME. This project continues to develop and take on new and exciting forms, continually finding new audiences to engage and inform. It is obvious that I could continue to rave about Matawi. If I have not demonstrated why I have given this organization a 5 star ranking, I encourage you to explore their website (www.matawi.org) and find out for yourself. If you’re already sold, I encourage you to visit the donation page on their website.

9

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Matawi is an incredible organization. Their commitment to the global refugee community is extremely inspiring and much-needed in a world where the prevailing narrative of economic globalization often fails to recognize its effects on developing populations worldwide, and particularly on women in those populations. The Dadaab Young Women's Scholarship Initiative is particularly pertinent in the pursuit of fostering change both here in the US and in Somalia. My personal relationship with the leadership of Matawi confirms and strengthens my belief in the important work for which they are known.

6

Board Member

Rating: 5

Patti and I first traveled to the Dadaab Refugee Camps in 2007, returning again the following year in 2008. As a cluster of camps, Dadaab is remarkable in a number of ways--it has been in existence since 1991; its numbers continue to grow, now nearing 300,000 refugees. Poignantly, life in the camps offers no long term, durable solutions for refugees. In fact, a generation has been raised in Dadaab with little hope of repatriating to Somalia, integrating into Kenyan society, or resettling to a third country. Within the camps there exists a school system run by the UNHCR and its implementing partners--Care and Windletrust. Nearly 300 students complete high school each year but only around 35 are young women. From there, only the slightest percentage of graduates are able to access higher education. While in the camps, Patti and I heard over and over again stories of youth who wanted nothing more than to further their studies--to be able to apply the hard work that they had already put into their schooling to higher education and meaningful careers. Matawi was founded in part as a response to this articulated desire, with an emphasis on providing educational opportunities to girls and women. Matawi is a very young organization, having incorporated only in 2009, but is already sending one new student to college in East Africa and has laid the groundwork for many more to apply to US schools. I am deeply honored to be a part of Matawi.

6

Board Member

Rating: 5

matawi is completely devoted to women's empowerment. this non profit was born through the collaboration of american women listening to somali refugee women in the dadaab refugee camp. these refugee women shared the stories of their journeys into the camp and the limitations posed by the educational opportunities in the camps. through the publication of their stories, compiled as a meaningful book of memoirs, matawi launched its scholarship initiative efforts to bring girls out of the camp to be college educated in the united states and in kenya by selling the book and building a community of contributors who are now the foundation of the non-profit's donors. i have met many of the somali refugees in maine and am awed by their courage and creativity. working with matawi has increased their insight and capacity as well as empowered their future opportunities. additionally, matawi is actively involved in local progamming in the state of maine where many somali refugees have resettled. the research branch of the organization is actively studying the refugee communities in dadabb and lewiston maine with hopes to build future understanding and opportunity.

6

Board Member

Rating: 5

After visiting Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya, I helped to found the organization, which raises money for scholarships given to young women at the camps.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 2007, I, met with Patricia Buck and Rachel Silver (Co-founders of Matawi) when they came to Dadaab Refugee Camp of Kenya for research. I was working with Windle Trust Kenya as a teacher and counselor. During that time, I was teaching an Advanced English Course to 25 refugees. Central to the curriculum was Reseach Methods and Writing, a course that I invited Buck and Silver to co-teach. In return, my students focused their research on issues realting to women empowerment. My students were earger to apply the knowledge on enthnographic research that Buck and Silver taught. The following year, Buck and Rachel came back to Dadaab Refugee Camp. The findings of their previous research had shown that there was negligible progress in regard to women education and that more cordinated efforts were needed to improved girl-child education in Dadaab. They founded a scholarship project called 'The Dadaab Young Women Scholarship Initiative'. This was aimed at reaching out to young women who had finished high school and had good grades for college. They chose candidates based on their Kenya Certificate of Secondary education (KCSE)grades, English Proficiency and their involvement in the community. I was involved in the selection process. I also edited the video on the initiative. They also engaged the young women in a memoirs project where they shared their stories. I hepled transcribe these stories into an anthology entitiled 'They were very Beautiful. Such Things are. Proceeds from this anthology go towards the scholarship initiative. During the 2008/2009 academic year, I worked at Bates College as a Learning Associate for the Education Department. Central to my job was making presentations to colleges on behalf of the refugee applicants; their contextual background and how it has affected their acadimic preparedness. As an English Language Learning (ELL) Specialist, I worked with Bates College students to prepare Lesson plans for ELL teachers in Lewiston and Portland, Maine. I am currently working with Urban Promise Internation, a non-profit aimed at reaching at risk youth. I am in the process of writing a funding proposal for a TOEFL and SAT Center for Refugee Women. Hopefully if it is funded, I plan to have young refugee women enrolled for free classes. I strong support all that Matawi is doing for refugee women.

7

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a teacher in Lewiston, Maine, I have been involved in the Somali refugee community there. In 2007, Patti Buck, a professor at Bates College and one of the founders of Matawi, connected with me and we collaborated on a memoir writing project, "Memoirs for Change." My middle school students, including both native Maine youth and refugees from Somalia, worked together during the school day and in an after-school writing workshop to draft, revise, and share stories from their lives. The students learned so much about each other and formed long-lasting bonds during this process. We had a culminating celebration of writing at the end of the project where students read their stories aloud and families came to listen. Their stories were published in a shiny, illuminating anthology entitled "They Were Very Beautiful: Such Things Are" along with several memoirs written by refugees currently living at Dadaab. The proceeds from this wonderful book are used to help young female refugees continue their education after completing high school. Matawi offers incredible opportunities to aspiring youth who have persevered and successfully overcome hardship and obstacles. Matawi also educates us about the adversity refugees face and it helps build caring communities through the power of sharing stories.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Matawi is a Maine-based nonprofit committed to supporting education, civic engagement and leadership development in the refugee community. They word directly with the immigrant community in Maine as well as directly with the refugee community in Dadaab.