RET International is committed to working in emergencies, in conflicts and in fragile environments around the world to alleviate suffering and catalyze sustainable development of vulnerable young people and women
Our Global MissionAt the heart of RET’s mission is to protect and build the self-reliance of young people and women.
RET works in areas of conflict, crisis and instability around the world, from the Middle East to Afghanistan and Asia, throughout Africa and all the way to Latin America & the Caribbean. RET is committed to providing interventions within the Humanitarian – Peace – Development triple nexus, with short, medium- and long-term multiple-year perspectives, primarily focused on young people and women in crisis and fragile contexts.
We are therefore committed to assist communities through tailor-made solutions, converging our actions to “Bridge the Gaps” in crises, conflicts and fragile contexts, using an innovative, multi-sectoral approach to protect, stabilize and enhance self-reliance for the past 20 years. Among young people, RET has grown especially concerned with the plight of young women, who have become one of our key beneficiary populations in all contexts. RET was founded in 2000 by Mrs Sadako Ogata, as she was ending her second term as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR). Mrs Ogata’s vision for RET was to bridge a massive gap she had witnessed during her tenure as the head of the UN Refugee Agency: education for youth. During crises, donor priorities were always for life-saving basic needs as food, water, shelter and child protection. Budgets rarely stretched far enough to reach the needs of young people. This had tragic consequences as crises tend to be evermore protracted, often lasting for years or even decades. It was estimated that the average time in exile was of 17 years. If adolescents and youth are not given any opportunities, they will become extremely vulnerable to illegal activities, gangs, underage labor, drug trafficking, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, violence and more. Capacity building is what provides them with the skills to confront these threats, develop their resilience to become self-reliant. RET’s multi-sectoral approach guarantees the complementary nature of actions planned for a project and the interdependence between them, providing a comprehensive approach to bridge the needs gaps and achieve greater & durable results, thus providing protection and development relief.
At inception, RET acted exclusively in refugee camps using education as a tool. However, as refugee migration patterns changed and new crises emerged, the paradigm shifted in different parts of the world and the methods we had developed specifically for refugee camps, proved to be adaptable to young people in fragile environments in general. Today we still work in refugee camps, but the majority of our work is with urban, peri-urban and rural refugees, with host communities, with internally displaced populations, with adolescent soldiers, with victims of natural disasters and more.
Bridging the Gaps between Humanitarian Action & DevelopmentClear Solutions to a Complex Problem
Youth As Key Actors of Positive ChangeYouth are positive actors during a crisis, while also representing the future of their communities.
A Multi-Sectoral Approach RET's multi-sectoral approach guarantees the complementary nature of actions planned and the interdependence between them, providing a comprehensive approach to bridge the needs gaps and achieve durable results; all while paving the way towards social cohesion, self-reliance, peace and prosperity.
Why Our Mission MattersThrough its unique mandate RET bridges the gaps between humanitarian action and development.
International assistance is traditionally separated into humanitarian relief and development cooperation. Humanitarian organizations offer short-term protection during emergencies (saving lives and alleviating suffering), while development organizations work in stabilized environments to improve long-term social and economic wellbeing. At RET, we believe our mandate centered on young people and vulnerable women, allows us to propose relevant solutions to bridge the gaps between humanitarian relief and development aid using multi-sectoral interventions within the triple nexus of Humanitarian, Peace & Development.
Crises rarely have clearly defined end dates when humanitarian actors can leave, and development work begins. Crises may last for years or even decades and the transition period between crisis and development is often impossible to define, contingent upon politics between different international actors, and thus extremely difficult to address. For a transition from crisis to stable societies to occur, the main actors and tools need to be similar in both contexts. This is ultimately what bridges the gaps in knowhow and methods between the different types of aid provided by the international community, governments or local communities. This is what our mandate sets out to do. RET works specifically with young people, and this is crucial. Young people are already potential actors during a crisis, while also representing the future of their communities. They have important roles in both the present and the future, which is less the case of other demographic groups such as children and the elderly. The second specificity of RET’s mandate is to use the various tools to protect during crises and emergencies and develop capacities in fragile environments. RET not only protects, but also lays the foundations for self-reliance sustainable interventions of the future. RET therefore works with the key cohort among the populations at risk (young people & women) and employs the right lifesaving and development tools (Multi-sectoral) to propose efficient strategies to bridge the gaps between humanitarian relief and development aid. This makes our mandate not only unique, but tailor-made with greater and durable impact.
Self-reliance: Building Resilience & Ending DependencyRET’s approach to self-reliance works toward creating durable development results by ending the need of any external support.
Complementarity: A Better Strategy Responding to Gaps and Preventing DuplicationsRET’s actions at all levels aim to align with international and national legal and operational frameworks, to bring together leadership, innovative thinking and resources and to create a better strategy responding to gaps.
Transparency & Accountability RET is committed to safeguarding the values of transparency and accountability, through an evidence-based approach and through its innovative Monitoring and Evaluation system put in place.
How We Do It20 Years of Experience in Various Areas of Intervention
RET focuses not only on protecting, but also on increasing the self-sufficiency and self-reliance of refugee and displaced young people and their families along with those affected in the host communities by displacement, conflict, violence through programs aimed at strengthening the local capacities, fostering socio-economic empowerment and human development and promoting stable, resilient, and prosperous societies. This approach enables RET to better integrate its multi-sectoral approach in protection, gender equality & social inclusion, disaster risk reduction, health & WASH, nutrition & food security, Education & Capacity Building, and other development actions. When communities are resilient, overcoming multi-dimensional poverty becomes a possibility.
We believe that people must influence the processes that shape their lives.
RET focuses not only on protecting, but also on increasing the self-sufficiency and self-reliance of refugee and displaced young people and their families along with those affected in the host communities by displacement, conflict, violence through programs aimed at strengthening the local capacities, fostering socio-economic empowerment and human development and promoting stable, resilient, and prosperous societies. This approach enables RET to better integrate its multi-sectoral approach in protection, gender equality & social inclusion, disaster risk reduction, health & WASH, nutrition & food security, education & capacity building, and other development actions.
When communities are resilient, overcoming multi-dimensional poverty becomes a possibility. We believe that people must influence the processes that shape their lives.
From its 20 years of experience RET has derived a complete toolbox in 10 main areas of intervention aimed at protecting and building the self-reliance of vulnerable young people, and young women in particular. In reality classification is obviously more complex, but these main approaches may generally be presented under the below main groups: Approaches to Protect young people and to help them Cope with Emergencies; Approaches allowing youth to lead their communities towards Stability through Economic Growth & Development; RET has also developed special attention to the Socio-economic Empowerment of young women, an issue that is mainstreamed throughout all our approaches; Approaches maintaining access to Quality Education & Capacity Building; along with other interventions in Disaster Risk Reduction, Health & WASH, Nutrition and Food Security and Gender equality & Social Inclusion.
Coping with Emergencies
During emergencies, RET offers basic humanitarian needs such as water, shelter, food and international protection. In fragile environments, young people need to develop their resilience. RET therefore has built up an expertise in providing psychosocial support (child & Youth & Women) and life skills during crises and emergencies. In addition, RET’s experience in protection tackles Early and Forced Marriage; Child Labor; Human Trafficking; Children and Youth with Disabilities & Legal Support.
Psychosocial support helps vulnerable children, youth and their families cope with the traumas they have lived through. If the psychological state of young people is not addressed either through individual therapy or group support, it will be extremely difficult for them to overcome the risks inherent to fragile environments and develop the necessary skills to protect themselves.
Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable young people to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. For RET this has often meant providing trainings with basic life-saving information in fields such as health, landmine awareness or prevention of gender-based violence.
Youth with Special Needs
During emergencies, inequalities linked to disability are exacerbated, as normal support systems such as family ties, specific infrastructure, social services or transportation networks collapse. The inclusive approaches that RET follows means that affirmative actions have to be taken to ensure that all members of society have access to their universal rights. Special attention to young people with disabilities is therefore a question of addressing specifically acute needs in order to guarantee all young peoples’ rights. However, as in the case of focusing on young women, working with youth with disabilities also serves a broader purpose. The way communities treat the most vulnerable influences how they view solidarity and social cohesion as a whole. Developing the potential of youth with special needs allows them to play strong roles in raising the awareness of their communities on the intrinsic value of all its members. RET address the needs of youth with special needs on multiple levels. First, we mainstream the issue of access to educational facilities and opportunities to youth with special needs in all our programs around the world. In specific contexts, we have developed methods to train governmental institutions in charge of integrating youth with special needs within the formal education system’s response to natural disasters. Our work then extends to the educational institutions themselves, training teachers to understand the needs and special vulnerabilities of their students with disabilities and integrate them in the school’s contingency plans. Finally, RET works with the youth themselves, raising their awareness of their roles and responsibilities in case of emergencies, allowing them to become positive actors of the school’s overall safety.
Economic Growth & Development
RET provides sustainable self-reliance opportunities, that align with national laws and regulations, to refugees, other displaced people, and host community members, with a particular focus on youth, women, and persons with disabilities through providing technical support to increase the employability profiles and access to income generation of refugees and other crisis affected people, as well as support to relevant and market driven entrepreneurial ship skills training or technical and vocational programs. To achieve locally sustained outcomes, RET focuses on increasing the self-sufficiency and self-reliance of refugee and displaced young people and their families along with those affected in the host communities by displacement, conflict, violence and promoting stable, resilient, and prosperous societies through various programs and tools providing: Self- Reliance & Socio- Economic Strengthening; Livelihoods opportunities; Life skills; Agriculture; Digital Work; Small Market Oriented; Business Development; Social Entrepreneurship and Rural Development. RET’s interventions in the Economic Growth & Development sector work toward creating durable development results by ending the need of any external support. RET’s vision is to capacitate the most vulnerable to become more resilient and lead their own development journey towards rebuilding more resilient and peaceful communities.
Women Socio-economic Empowerment
RET’s programs are concerned by young people in general. However, we do believe that by working consistently with vulnerable young women and mothers, our programs not only respond to pressing needs, but have a greater impact and effectiveness. Young women and mothers are amongst the most vulnerable in crises but are also often heads of households and play essential roles in the lives of children, youth and the family unit as a whole. A person’s gender still greatly affects their opportunities and achievements. The social, economic and cultural development of societies has created different gender roles, which are in most cases advantageous to men and detrimental to women. This gap widens in fragile contexts, as evidence shows that masculinities and femininities are heightened during a crisis. Also, when general violence in communities rises there is a noted increase in gender-based violence. The use of rape as a weapon or forced early marriages are among the most notorious examples. Therefore, focusing on young women, adolescent mothers, women heads of households, young widows is vital in the perspective of addressing the most pressing needs. However, the logic for focusing on women goes beyond this question of vulnerability; it is also an issue of impact and effectiveness. Targeting young women has far reaching positive impacts as they are very often at the heart of the family, influence children’s education, play important roles in health, nutrition as well as household management and income. The more education a woman has, the better the opportunities for the children and the families as a whole. The return on investment of working to protect young women through education is therefore extremely high.
Learn more about RET YKD’s Women Socio-economic Empowerment lead project in Turkey.
Livelihoods & Employability
Skills that will enable young people to attain self-reliance are what will ultimately provide them with a more secure and stable situation during crises. In certain contexts, where jobs may be available, RET will provide vocational courses in trades or support apprenticeship schemes matching young people with existing local businesses. RET’s entrepreneurship training enables young people who may have developed a small business to make it prosper. For those who are starting from scratch, our small business training courses help them create a small enterprise through collective strategies. Finally, technical training is used to move young people further along the path to employability, by providing them with concrete marketable skills like computer literacy or administration.
Education & Capacity Building
More than 20 years of experience in Education in Emergencies
Our core competencies in the spectrum of education is built on interventions ranging from the strengthening of formal and non-formal education to basic literacy and numeracy, tertiary education, psychosocial support, human rights, refugee rights, children’s rights, women’s rights and more. In stable contexts, formal education is usually the main pillar of education and is what we instinctively think of as education. However, in emergencies, the formal education system is often dysfunctional or completely non-existent creating the need for a wide range of approaches to respond to the specific and acute needs of young people. RET’s first step is always to conduct a needs & assets assessment survey (NAAS), in order to have a clear picture of what we will need to deploy in each specific crisis. For these surveys to be meaningful, we spend a lot of time listening closely to the key stakeholders on the ground and in the donor community. Project creation is a strongly participatory process.
Around the School
The presence of schools and classroom environments has always been an essential and stabilizing force within communities. RET has therefore developed a holistic approach to make sure schools are present and play their protective role for vulnerable young people during crises. This includes the provision of formal education, non-formal education and the capacity building of local educational assets.
RET provides formal education by running schools based on official national curricula or by facilitating the access to recognized or state-run schools. There is equally often a need for accelerated learning programs for young people who are over-aged for their level as a result of their flight and exile. RET also manages scholarship programs for tertiary education.
The non-formal education provided by RET offers basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, catch-up courses to enable young people to re-integrate into local school systems, as well as, language courses. For those who have been displaced, mastering the local language is key to integrating local educational systems and communities. Even if these courses are not part of the official national curriculum, RET always makes sure they meet standards of institutions such as the INEE or UNESCO and make the extra effort to have them recognized by local authorities.
Building the capacity of local educational assets in fragile environments is an indirect, but extremely efficient way of ensuring the presence of meaningful educational opportunities for vulnerable youth, while also strengthening the educational environments for the children and youth of the host community. This implies improving local school administration, engaging in teacher training and professional development, mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in educational programs as well as the construction, renovation and provision of equipment in order to create safe and learner-friendly environments.
Peace, Stability & Transition
Ultimately, RET aims to build a world in which the actions of empowered young people lead their communities out of crisis and towards stronger social cohesion, peace and prosperity. To help young people become such actors of positive social change, RET has developed a series of programs focused on Youth Civic Empowerment & responsible citizenship, youth-adult partnerships or awareness of rights – children’s rights, women’s rights, refugee rights as well as various programs engaging youth in Peace Building & Conflict Prevention, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs, Prevention of Violent Extremism and Communities Reconciliation Programs. These programs provide young people with the keys to participate in their community’s affairs and be meaningfully engaged in all aspects of humanitarian action. Leadership training is also essential for young people to be capable of creating youth-led community assets-based projects or successfully administer grassroots youth groups and associations.
Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
RET has been designing and implementing projects on DRR since 2009. RET started in Colombia during the winter wave, and since 2012 and to date, RET is working in multiple countries in the LAC region, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panamá at the national and regional level, using innovative approaches and ground-breaking interventions. During the last 10 years RET has implemented more than 20 DRR-focused regional and national projects, including integral actions in other sectors such as education, protection, health and/or WASH and livelihoods, benefiting more than 30,000 participants directly, and 90,000 indirectly.
RET’s DRR approaches are driven by 3 main strategic directions:
(1) Participation of children, adolescents and young people in DRR; (2) Advocacy and institutional strengthening in DRR focused on children and youth; (3) Development of tools and frameworks for DRR focusing on children and young people. The DRR projects focus specifically on the needs of children, adolescents and young people, aimed at building their resilience through capacity strengthening under a rights-based approach. In addition, the DRR projects respond to early childhood and adolescents and young people’s needs and to the essentials of people with disabilities or indigenous groups. Some of RET’s DRR projects comprises of institutional capacity building and strengthening processes (Ministries of Education or Social Development) contributing to the design and/or implementation of their DRR public policies. Moreover, other projects have focused on a community level through the implementation of risk management models.