A New Name Opens Doors for REI

One of the NPOs that we support on GoConnect celebrated a recent milestone: they rebranded. Formerly known as Refugees International Japan (RIJ), the organization has changed its name to REI, which stands for Refugee Empowerment International. GoConnect recently had the opportunity to talk with REI Executive Director Jane Best OBE about the concept behind the rebrand and their new goals. 

About the Organization

REI supports projects for refugees and internally displaced people around the world. They concentrate on projects run by displaced communities as well as the hosting communities that support them. Their core mission is to enable these communities to build human resources from the bottom up and allow them to develop the facilities and structures they need.  Best said that allowing the refugees to take full responsibility for their projects is more sustainable than providing them with completed projects. With financial support, refugees and displaced people have the freedom to build what they need, thereby encouraging them to build a stronger future for themselves in a manner that best suits them.  Fundamentally, REI acts as a sponsor for the refugees, giving the people on the ground adequate financial support.  

What’s in a Name

Asked about the old name, Best said that it did not give a clear impression of what the organization was doing from the beginning. The old name was restrictive when compared to the actual scope of their support. To give a clearer message, they chose the word “empowerment.” Best felt that the word was the strongest, and provided the clearest representation of what the funds do: empower people to rediscover themselves and recover. Given their global reach and their worldwide network of supporters, the full name Refugee Empowerment International is a natural fit. 

Opportunities in the Pandemic

At this time when connections can be made through LCD screens, REI has made the most of the situation, liaising even more with interns and former volunteers around the world. While not expressing gratitude for Covid, Best believes that the pandemic can inspire us to focus on the opportunities that it has created.

New Prospects

Best explained that, along with the new brand, the organization has established new goals and expectations.

  • Increase reach: Their main goal at the moment is to extend their activities around the world, raising awareness and fundraising.
  • Monthly donor list: They are also looking for more donations and they want to increase their monthly donor list. If you want to support REI in their mission, visit their donation site
  • Online events

In regard to this last point, Best and her team are continually coming up with online events that people around the world can participate in. Their latest effort is their virtual walk from Damascus to Beirut. The way the event is set up, just by going about your day-to-day routines, you can complete a journey that refugees in the region regularly make. As you walk, your progress will be shown on the map and, as you approach major cities, you’ll have access to street views to experience some of the places yourself. GoConnect hopes that REI flourishes with its new branding and goals, and continues to support refugees and displaced people around the world.    

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