QECS Scholar Engaged In Survey Collecting

Supporting communities in need: Hellen Kasila

Theme: Global challenges
Headshot Of Hellen Kasilla

Hellen Kasila studied a masters in Women and Gender studies at the University of Buea, Cameroon, in 2017 with a Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship (QECS). Here, Hellen reflects on her QECS experience and current work as a livelihoods officer for communities in north-east Kenya.


 

The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship scheme has literally paved the way for me to better myself and pursue a career that I am proud of. I am better placed to help my family and support people and communities.

After completing my studies in 2017, I came back to Kenya in 2018 armed with new knowledge and perspectives. My career path took a whole new direction as I managed to secure a job with an international organisation committed to supporting those in need.

My QECS funded degree placed me in a far better position to seize opportunities and kickstart my career. It’s always been my dream to work with an international non-government organisation and thanks to my scholarship, I achieved it!

The pandemic left many people jobless and resulted in very high levels of unemployment in my country. Nevertheless, based on my past work experience and training, I secured a new job amidst the pandemic in 2020. The fact that I managed to secure work at this time is perhaps one of my biggest achievements to date! Four years down the line, I am now working as a livelihoods officer, supporting projects that aim to build resilient communities in the north-eastern region of Kenya.

Facilitating A Women And Children Rights Sensitization Training In 2019

My recent work at one of the biggest refugee camps in the world - Dadaab Refugee camp in Kenya – taught me a great deal. I was part of a team that supported refugees to be self-reliant and improve their livelihoods. My master’s really helped me to excel in this work, specifically in terms of the skills and knowledge in gender mainstreaming, protection and inclusion of marginalised groups, as well as social science research methodologies when carrying out different surveys and assessments in the communities.

The experience was engaging, rewarding and full of new learning. Supporting vulnerable communities who have been forced to flee their homes, has been incredibly fulfilling because firstly, humanitarian work has been my dream career and passion, and secondly because I identify with needing support in life. If it wasn’t for my scholarship, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.

This experience also opened new virtual and physical training opportunities, the most recent being training by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This training looked at how to ‘Start and improve your business (SIYB)’ to support refugees and host communities. I must say that securing these opportunities is quite competitive, and being selected to participate has been another competitive advantage of my masters training.

Looking forward, I plan to continue my humanitarian work and help those in need. I’m excited about what the future will bring and hope to work internationally.

More information

The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships (QECS). QECS offers a unique opportunity to study a two-year Master’s degree in a low or middle-income Commonwealth country.

Aimed at students who are committed to creating change in their communities, the scholarships are a life-changing opportunity to experience a new country and culture, to broaden horizons, and to build a global network that will last a lifetime. 

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Theme: Global challenges