Respect Rungano Musiyiwa
MSc Global Food Security and Nutrition (Online Learning) and Mastercard Foundation Scholar
My name is Respect Rungano Musiyiwa, I am a multi-awarding social leader passionate about smallholder farmers and frontline communities’ development. I am a founder of a nonprofit CASL Trust as well as a social business and startup Precision Farming Africa aimed at building the resilience of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe and Africa. I am an Agronomic Engineer from Earth University and an MSc Global Food Security and Nutrition student at the University of Edinburgh as a Mastercard Scholar. I am a Net Impact Fellow and Cornell University Climate Fellow.
How did you come to take part in Refugee activism?
My first encounter working with refugees was when I studying at EARTH University during vacation, we used to organise community giveback and voluntary programs as Mastercard Scholars. One such vacation in 2018 we visited a refugee camp in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We donated clothes to the refugees and get to interact and hear their stories and challenges. From that time my interest of work and help refugees grew very strong. In 2019 when I was doing my research internship at the University of Florida, I volunteered 68 hours at local St Martins Friendship Home in Immokalee feeding and interacting with refugees.
When I graduated and came back home in Zimbabwe in 2021, I went to the largest refugees’ camp in Zimbabwe called Tongogara Refugees Camp, a community of more than 15,000 people. I started helping high school leavers to apply for academic scholarship to study abroad. I have a group of young people from Tongogara I mentor and interact with on a weekly basis.
My biggest opportunity to work with refugees is when I was awarded a tender to be the Lead Trainer and Consultant to establish one of the biggest Hydroponics farming Project in Zimbabwe at Tongogara Refugee camp. The project being implemented through World Vision and funded by World Food Programs aim to build the capacity of over 200 households from Tongogara Refugees Camp to be food and income secure. We established huge systems of hydroponic under greenhouse, solar-powered boreholes, and other climate-smart agriculture infrastructure to help the refugees to grow vegetables and fruits for household consumption and selling.
Working with refugees opened my eyes and mind to new cultures and views of life. I now understand the different lifestyles and challenges of people from different countries. It also gave me the opportunity to volunteer and contribute to making this world a better place for all and not leaving anyone behind.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to join in or start an initiative?
My advice to anyone who wants to start an initiative is to start from the little steps that you can. Don’t procrastinate, for it is the thief of time. Use the locally available resources that you have and then expand from there. It is very important not to just form ideas but rather come up with solutions to problems people are facing. Let our products and services solve the challenges people are facing every day. That way we can make the world better for all.
Why do you feel Refugee Week and Refugee activism is important?
The Refugees Week and Activism is important as it gives us the opportunity to reflect and learn more about one of the great challenges facing the world right today, that of forced migration. It gives us the platform to bring our minds and efforts together to come up with sustainable solutions to this challenge toward a world which is prosperous for all. It also offers a chance for refugees to share their stories and be heard.
Each year the University holds events to celebrate Refugee Week and the Scottish Refugee Festival. Join us this year from 20th June – 26th June to take part.