Welcome to The Change Makers series, a series of conversations with change makers from around the world.

Through REACH, we aim to connect theory and practice through integration of engaged research and education with the communities with whom we engage.  This Change Maker series sets out to share this work, exploring some stories of successes and challenges through conversations with the change makers we have had the pleasure of collaborating with globally. Through these conversations, we hope to share experiences and learning from impactful projects that are creating real and lasting changes for people in the communities in which they operate. We also intend to explore ways in which education can act as a catalyst for transformational change. We hope that you enjoy the series and we welcome your suggestions for future discussions with other change makers from around the world.

Watch the introduction video and subsequent episodes on our YouTube channel. We aim to add a new episode every two weeks, subscribe to our Change Makers playlist on our YouTube channel to catch every one.

Change Makers: Episode 1 with Innocent Tsilombo and Paul O'Keeffe

In this episode of Change Makers, Innocent Tsilombo, the co-founder and managing director of Kakuma Ventures, speaks with Paul O'Keeffe from Maynooth University about his organisation's approach to providing vital services to people in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Having previously worked together on various engaged research and higher education initiatives in Kakuma, Innocent and Paul explore the role academia plays in enabling refugee empowerment and how it has acted as a catalyst for Innocent's current work with Kakuma Ventures. This refugee-led network of humanitarians, social workers, entrepreneurs, and applied human rights activists is breaking down barriers and helping the people of Kakuma to create their own solutions for the problems they face in exile. 

Change Makers: Episode 2 with Dieu Merci Luundo, Christian Mabuku and Paul O'Keeffe

This conversation with Dieu Merci Luundo and Christian Mabuku delves into the role education has played in creating Vijana Twaweza Youth Club in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The club brings young people together to raise fish, grow vegetables and learn about permaculture in an effort to combat climate change, inequality and malnutrition.


Change Makers: Episode 3 with Lorraine Charles, Na'amal and Dr Paul O'Keeffe

In this episode of Change Makers, Paul O'Keeffe speaks with Lorraine Charles, the founder of Na'amal, an organisation that is changing the narrative around refugees and employment. Na'amal develops soft skills and digital training for refugees all over the world and helps them to connect with remote working opportunities. Paul and Lorraine have previously worked together on a book about academic responses to the Syria crisis.

Change Makers: Episode 4 with Don Tuan Phuong, CSDS and Niamh Rooney, MU

In this episode of Change Makers, Niamh Rooney from the Department of International Development chats with Don Tuan Phuong, founder and director of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) in Vietnam. Niamh and Phuong have had the opportunity to work together on several programmes over the years focusing on education, sustainable development, intercultural learning, responsible and sustainable tourism, and active citizenship.

Change Makers: Episode 5 with Susan Mwangi, Tangaza University, Kenya & Paul O'Keeffe

In this episode of Change Makers, Paul O'Keeffe from Maynooth University's Department of International Development speaks with Susan Mwangi from Tangaza University in Kenya. Susan is an expert on community and grassroots development and is a lecturer, researcher and mentor at Tangaza University's Insititue for Social Transformation. Paul and Susan have previously worked closely on various education for development initiatives in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and are currently developing a refugees' community cohesion research project.

Change Makers: Episode 6 with Vijana Twaweza Youth Club and Paul O'Keeffe

In this episode of Change Makers, Dieu Merci Luundo and Christian Mabuku of Vijana Twaweza Youth Club talk with Paul O'Keeffe from Maynooth University's Department of International Development about their fish, cricket and vegetable farming project in Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya. Having lived in the camp for many years, they started the project to fight against malnutrition and to provide an avenue for young people to come together and empower themselves to seek a more sustainable future. The project won the World Food Programme's Young Innovator East Africa award in 2021 and since then has gone from strength to strength and expanded to training other young people in the camp to set up their own farming projects.