Lina Zdruli: Founder at Dafero

Updated: Jun 18



I would constantly hear the narrative of “needs” and “dependence” - while these are certainly important aspects to address from a humanitarian perspective, I believe changing some of the narrative around the contributions of refugees in their host communities could greatly help change that negative narrative.

What is YOUR story? What resonates with you in terms of how you were driven to work in social impact?

I grew up moving several times before I turned 18, so I was exposed to very diverse cultures

and settings since I was a child. Learning how communities lived from rural areas outside

Alexandria in Egypt to the fast pace of Tokyo in Japan and being immersed in areas where I did not speak the language nor previously knew the specific nuances of the culture taught me to communicate without words and understand the specific needs of every subculture shaped my work in multicultural settings. Now that I work full time on social impact, I am constantly aware of the different subcultures, those between my team, between my clients and beneficiaries and all the unique communities we work directly with when implementing

Dafero’s social impact strategy on promoting livelihoods for refugee and trafficked women.


How do you feel the language/narrative surrounding refugees and the crisis has shaped your

experience?

I was in my first semester of graduate studies at Georgetown University when I first started to

be interested in the “refugee crisis” from an academic perspective.

I would constantly hear the narrative of “needs” and “dependence” - while these are certainly important aspects to address from a humanitarian perspective, I believe changing some of the narrative around the contributions of refugees in their host communities could greatly help change that negative narrative.

We need to find a balance between offering support and realizing refugee communities want to be active agents in their future.

Why is your current mission important to you?

When employing firsthand refugee women at Dafero, I saw the need the women had in finding the confidence and appropriate skills to help them thrive in their new communities and workforce, if they chose employment as a path. Seeing the change in their confidence levels and ability to independently achieve the roles they desired at home, in the community and on the job reinforces every day the importance of our mission - helping women achieve their path to self-reliance.


What are the common misconceptions or stereotypes you are typically debunking?

My background is international relations and entrepreneurship. I am particularly passionate

about the intersection between business, technology and social good. I am currently running

Dafero, a food startup with a social impact focus - we use a percentage of our profits to create life and work skills for refugee and trafficked women. We create capacity building programs which are then given to NGOs and community-based organizations for free, to better equip them in supporting their beneficiaries. We also work in emergency settings - during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dafero built a free course explaining COVID-19 and providing mental health support for families worldwide.


What is one piece of advice you would give to someone unfamiliar with the humanitarian/aid

community?

I would say to look beyond one specific community and work with different groups

For example, there can be a strong intergenerational shift between refugees, and it is important to uniquely address the needs of an unaccompanied minor from those of the elderly, a middle- aged parent from those of a young adult. Similarly, understanding the differences of refugees from diverse geographic regions and addressing programs and support to match their subcultures. There is this tendency to group “refugees” in one large category, without properly addressing the needs of their gender, age and culture.


Visit Dafero's website here

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In-Sight Collaborative

We care about all things Refugees. If you do too, get in touch with us! We love to expand our partner-, volunteer- and donor-network.

HQ: Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Contact us!

Email: team@in-sightcollaborative.org

Registered Charity: 83-2090182

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