“Refugees give up almost everything in the hopes of having a better life. We are out of our comfort zone and willing to work hard for a better future. Pakistan should capitalize on this untapped potential of Afghan refugees by giving them the opportunity to build businesses and ultimately boost the Economy.”
Wafaa Khatibi is an Afghan refugee who is working as a Social Inclusion Officer with UNDP’s Youth Empowerment Program. Wafaa moved to Pakistan with her family in 2002 at the age of five, due to the continuous unrest in their country. She has spent her whole life in Pakistan, and although she felt at home in Pakistan, she also felt like an outsider in both countries because of her refugee status.
In 2019, she graduated from International Islamic University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and was awarded a gold medal. Unfortunately, Wafaa faced many obstacles in putting her education to practice since refugees are not legally permitted to start a business or work in the formal job market in Pakistan. However, owing to her dedication and academic achievements, she was hired as a research associate for a renowned research organization.
In March 2021, Wafaa joined UNDP Pakistan, and was excited and honoured to work on meaningful projects of global importance such as climate change and COVID-19 vaccinations. She enjoys working with other youth in bringing about a change, by empowering and engaging vulnerable communities.