University of Calgary

Taking knowledge back to the community

UToday HomeMay 18, 2012

Joanne Kinya Mugambi, a master of social work student was in Washington this week to receive an award that will allow her to follow through on her career plan to work with women and children in African refugee camps.

Mugambi is one of the recipients of the Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund grant of $12,000. Recipients are expected to return to their countries of origin or another developing country and apply their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of women and children there.

Mugambi has travelled extensively since she was 18 and moved to Canada in 2011 for her graduate studies. She’s writing a book called ‘Smoke from My Balcony, Puffs from My Heart’―a travel journal which she hopes will “capture voices from my travels and describe triumphs and tribulations.”

“As I write the stories of these women I have met along my travels I hope to encourage other women to heal,” says Mugambi.

Mugambi plans to work with women at risk and displaced children in African refugee camps following the completion of her MSW in 2012. She envisions her role “as a counselor and facilitator for healthy discussions on healing and forgiveness.

“I hope to create a workbook/manual for counselors working with victims of forced displacement and trauma.”

Having worked with refugees for more than six years in 10 countries, 15 cities, and six refugee camps in Africa, it is clear that this more than work for Mugambi. In Calgary, she worked with refugee and immigrant women at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s association as an integration counselor.

After receiving the grant in Washington, Mugambi will head to Cairo for the summer to work as a UN consultant for refugee children and youth from Libya. She says she has a lot to be grateful for, and hopes that her journey will be inspiring to African girls in need of hope.