100 million people are displaced. The World Bank predicts that it will increase to 240 million people by 2050. Many will stay displaced for over two decades on average.
1 in every 78 people has been forced to leave home. (UNHCR) Millions live in isolated fields without access to many of their essential needs. Many wish they had more choices and to work to provide more opportunities for themselves and their kids.
We are working to reconfigure the refugee-aid system.
The Current State Today
The global aid system for displaced people, structured more than 70 years ago to accommodate the needs of less than 1 million people, is now struggling to meet the needs of the growing magnitude of displaced people.
Using outdated delivery methods, the system has become notoriously dehumanizing and ineffective, with bureaucrats and administrators making decisions far removed from the end-user–the refugee.
A Better Way Forward: Refugees in the center of their own recovery.
We are reimagining existing players to support a system built around the refugee; a system built about opportunities presented by the realities of protracted displacement contexts.
Better shelter outcomes accomplished more sustainably.
The standard-issue humanitarian tarps that millions rely on will only last 3-6 months before they start to tatter & leak.
Our locally made Billboard Tarps provide families durable protection from the elements for 5-10 years, save humanitarian agencies money from replacement tarps, and reduce the plastic waste in landfills.
Choice is fundamental to human existence.
Choice is the dignity that comes with the ability to decide for yourself. It is something that refugees often don’t get to do right now. We envision a place where they can come and choose for themselves what they need.
Refugees as assets, not burdens
Refugees are talented, skilled, and hardworking people. It only makes sense to train them to be the producers of the goods needed by other refugees. Whether they’re our products or others, we want to build a model that sees refugees not just as victims but as collaborators and producers.
In Uganda, we work with refugees to train them to produce shelter roof tarps that will last for 5-10 years. They are made from repurposed billboard vinyl. To date, we’ve repurposed over 130 tons of the stuff. Instead of importing bad tarps from abroad, refugees, for the first time, can provide a living for themselves, making shelter goods for other refugees.
Noella Kabale Kalu is a Congolese by nationality, living in Uganda as a refugee registered in the urban setting since 2011. She is the founder of REAL Uganda and Refugee Women Voices, a member of the Refugee-led Network (RELON), Refugee Representative at the CRRF steering working group. She aspires to build a society where women, men, and young females are treated with dignity, fairness, and respect, regardless of their status & and vulnerable conditions they find themselves in due to war, conflict, or other atrocities.
Advisory Board Member
Andy Agaba is a Praxis Fellow and the founder of Hiinga, a Christian Impact Investing Fund working across a spectrum of sectors including healthcare, financial services, education, agriculture, and manufacturing in East Africa. He graduated from Harvard Kennedy School where he was a Gleitsman Innovation Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership. At Uganda's Makerere University, he was a Poli sci major. Andy advises at the MIT Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship and is an award-winning documentary photographer.
Advisory Board Member
Marie is a Social Worker, currently working with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) as a Community Paralegal in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, and Interpreter for Refugee Resettlement Programs. Marie is a refugee from Rwanda and has lived in Nakivale Refugee Settlement since 2008. She holds a Bachelor in Social Work and a CEFE Licence for Entrepreneurship Trainer. She is passionate about contributing to the improvement of refugee livelihoods and is also a Master Trainer for the MarketPlace Literacy Program in Nakivale.
Co-Founder and Board Member
As a designer from the private sector, I'm passionate about ideas that improve the lives of those in need. My experience designing buildings, products, and art has taught me an important lesson: The most meaningful work is produced when partners work hand-in-hand on a common mission. Over the past 5 years, I've watched Every Shelter transform from an academic pursuit to working (and learning) alongside world-class organizations to design solutions that bring dignity to displaced communities. I have never been more proud of the work we're doing and look forward to seeing how we can continue to collaborate to solve the challenges ahead.
At Every Shelter I have the unique opportunity to use two passions in my life, mathematics and parenting, in one position. As a mathematician, I appreciate effective, elegant, and well-developed solutions to a problem. As a mom of two little ones, I also know the importance of sharing the stories, challenges, and successes of my life with my kids and others. As Communications Specialist for Every Shelter, I have the opportunity to inform the public about innovative designs as well as share the stories of people who are resolutely rebuilding their lives in new communities and countries despite overwhelming challenges. I believe that every person who reads about our work has the ability to impact people’s lives across the globe as they follow along with the journey to help people rebuild their lives from the floor up.
As a mother to two young children, I cannot imagine the fear and despair I would feel if I was forced to leave the comfort of my home and community. The fact that this is a growing reality for so many people around our world is truly heartbreaking. I believe our compassion can make a significant impact in the lives of these displaced populations. As Melinda Gates writes, “Philanthropy is not about the money. It’s about using whatever resources you have at your fingertips and applying them to improving the world.” Therefore, it is my privilege to mobilize people to make a global impact with their time, gifts, and resources through partnering with Every Shelter as we labor to bring better provisions and life dignifying solutions to forcefully displaced populations.
I am deeply committed to advocating for joint solutions to economic and social development issues. I consider myself a global citizen with cross-cultural experience working as an economist in Eswatini, a Girl Scout volunteer in rural Switzerland, and teaching in Mathare, one of Kenya's largest slums. My desire to work towards dignified shelter solutions for vulnerable people started while working in Mathare Slums. Four years later, I am now working with and for refugees in Uganda. I have loved using my many abilities in this new sector, and my favorite thing has been working with local small enterprises and refugee organizations to sew the tarps! As someone conscious of how my own actions affect the wider community, I am always learning new ways to help make things a little better.
Co-Founder and CPO
Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
I’ve been traveling the globe in development-related pursuits for more than 20 years, working with people throughout the varied stages of displacement. During my tenure in Afghanistan, I saw first-hand the challenges my Afghan colleagues faced that caused them to flee for their lives. While studying in northern Uganda, I met families struggling through years of displacement despite multiple attempts to return home. Through volunteer resettlement work in the US, I welcomed resettled refugees hoping to rebuild their lives in a new place while mourning the loss of friends and family they left behind. I am keenly aware of the human tendency to look at images of displaced people and refugees and immediately categorize them as “other.” Through joining Every Shelter, I have the chance to share stories that can change that category to “one another” and help us work together toward dignified, human-centered solutions.
Co-Founder and CEO
The process of designing new approaches and solutions to grave issues drives me. I believe the private sector and its vast reserves of professional skills and resources can fruitfully add to the productivity of ongoing humanitarian efforts to create a more just and merciful society. We all have a responsibility to do our part, but I firmly believe that in giving of ourselves we receive far more back than we give. Wendell Berry writes, “life is a gift we have only by giving it back again.” As a father of two young daughters, I want to model the intelligent, diligent, and hard-working compassion toward our neighbor to which I believe we are all obliged. It’s urgent and important work that we do.