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From living as a refugee, to being named a Moonshot Award Winner: Millennium Fellow Yoal Damai Dar

Class of 2022 Millennium Fellow Yoal Damai Dar was named a 2022 Moonshot Prize Award Winner in the 'Borderless category'. This award is given to leaders running initiatives that serve minority communities on a “for the people, by the people” principle. He speaks with us about his project, living as a refugee in Kenya, and his time as a Millennium Fellow.

Thank you for joining us today Yoal. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you for having me. My name is Yoal Domai Dar, currently a University of Nairobi student majoring in Planning and Management. I'm originally from South Sudan but have been living in Kenya for the past 12 years as a refugee. This country has played a significant role in my life, both personally and professionally, and I have a strong desire to give back and contribute to issues in the region and beyond.

I’ve been heavily involved in the student leadership space, participating in multiple fellowships including the Young African Leaders Initiative, a program launched by Barack Obama as a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. I am also a Class of 2022 Millennium Fellow. I co-founded Gezira Young People Agribusiness Trust Company in 2018, and most recently was named a Moonshot Platform Award winner, in the borderless category.

Congratulations on being named an inagural Moonshot award winner. Can you tell us a little bit about Moonshot, the project that made you an awardee, and why it matters

The Moonshot Platform is a movement generating opportunities for emerging leaders to inspire ideas and social impact action. Its mission is to 'create a world where young ambitious citizens not only see impact and real change as an achievable goal to strive for, but are also empowered and have access to all the support they require to turn their ideas into action.'

As a Milllennium Fellow, I learnt that only 12 per cent of young people across the world have access to psychosocial support. Worse still, less than 1 per cent of refugees have access to any form of psychosocial support. This was a very worrying statistic for me, particularly because I know first-hand how traumatic it can be to live life as a refugee. This is why I founded “The Spear of African Peace” (SoAP) project. SoAP proposes the use of art and storytelling as therapeutic tools to help communities, particularly refugees, deal with trauma. We utilize the art of storytelling as a catalyst for change through productive discourse. Our main activity is a yearly therapeutic essay contest that not only acts as a soul-mending safe space for sharing the - often traumatic - personal experiences of the East African youth but also draws upon these unique stories, amplifies them, and - by connecting the winners with key partnered governmental institutions - provides a platform for the youth's opinions, viewpoints, and ideas. Through economic avenues, art and storytelling via online channels, SoAP aims at transforming the livelihood of refugees both in urban and rural settings across the East Africa region.

Only 12 per cent of young people across the world have access to psychosocial support

This is wonderful to hear, how did you learn about the Moonshot awards and what does this recognition mean to you?

I learnt about Moonshot through the Millennium fellowship - MCN was working in partnership with Moonshot to identify promising youth leaders. When I received the email I immediately applied. Winning this coveted Moonshot award has gone a long way in validating our work, and gives us much-needed visibility and credibility. The entire team is extremely happy that their efforts have finally been noticed. The prize fund is very important as it will enable us to carry out our work plan, implement our projects in Kenya, and also hopefully open many other doors. With the help of this prize, we will be able to present our first six essay winners and air up to 100 refugee stories on our online YouTube channel.

Thank you for sharing your story with us Yoal and congratulations on your success as a Moonshot awardee. Is there any last word you’d like to share with us?

Thank you so much for having me. I just want to stress the importance of youth leadership in community advancement, and challenge other young people to continue playing whatever role they can in bringing about positive change. It is essential for young people to be actively involved in their communities and to use their voices to advocate for the issues that matter to them. Thank you to the MIllennium fellowship for providing a platform for young people to do that.


Connect with Yoal on LinkedIn.

Follow SoAP on LinkedIn

Connect with Yoal on Facebook

Learn more about Moonshot


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