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Review for Matawi Inc, Lewiston, ME, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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 ( and find out for yourself. If you’re already sold, I encourage you to visit the donation page on their website.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my service on the Board. I have had the opportunity to meet the entire leadership structure, which confirms my belief that this organization has all the tools, skills, expertise, and drive to achieve its mission.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

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Role:  Board Member & serve as a member of the Board.