Dobijoki Bringi’s approach to life has never been ordinary. She’s always been an innovator and someone for whom limitations do not exist. That’s the same approach she took when first starting as a Housing Success Worker at Eva’s.
Dobijoki Bringi, Housing Success Worker at Eva’s
Dobijoki felt it was necessary to have a stronger understanding of the housing market and the different experiences that may confront young Black people when searching for housing, so she attended some house viewings to gather first-hand experiences with a male coworker. “Potential landlords asked me so many inappropriate questions, she said. “They were asking things they should never ask a renter upfront like did I have a boyfriend? Would my mother be paying the rent?” With most of the young people Dobijoki works with being Black, the experiment cemented her determination to ensure that all of the youth she supports succeed.
Navigating Prejudice Housing Landmines
As a Housing Success Worker, Dobijoki gets to appreciate the strength of young people up close. She says their perseverance always impresses her since they are forced to navigate a landscape of situations that most Canadians could never imagine. ‘’It is deplorable that race is always part of the problem. Young people are discriminated against because they are Black,” She goes on to say that prejudice against homeless youth is also a huge contributing factor to the difficulty finding housing. “There is also the assumption that because the youth are homeless that they ran away from home or that they caused a problem that forced them on the streets. There is also a belief, that if a youth is on social support, this will jeopardize the landlord,” says Dobijoki.
Despite the barriers that she sees, Dobijoki believes the solution is simple, allow people experiencing homelessness access to housing. “If you don’t give someone housing they will never be able to settle and have the chance to work towards bettering their future.”
Injustice is something that Dobijoki knows firsthand. Originally from Sudan, she moved to London, Ontario when she was four, but after completing her undergraduate degree in Multicultural and Indigenous studies at York University, Dobijoki travelled to South Africa, where she worked for a year as a Social Service Worker in a township school. “I feel like I experienced so many things while there,” she reminisces. “I was in a position to viewing the residue of apartheid.”
Dobijoki explains that the generational impact of trauma due to South Africa’s history of apartheid showed in the ways in which many Indigenous African students viewed themselves. Dobijoki created two African-centred after school programs while in South Africa that addressed these issues. She enlisted the help of local Zulu leaders to come in help the youth discover their power. She felt this experience drew comparisons to the anti-Black racism experienced by young people in Canada as well.
She is currently finishing up her doctorate in education. Dobijoki believes that Indigenous African studies is needed in all levels of the education system here in Canada to help decolonize broken systems and to start the healing process for Black and African children. On top of all that, she often provides anti-racism training to organizations.
Living In Your Power
Here at Eva’s, Dobijoki believes her job goes beyond helping youth to find housing. She is here to help young people to feel more emboldened no matter their situation. “Young people need to feel more confident in their circumstances. Unfortunately, homelessness can make some people feel disempowered. But they must be confident, knowing that they are going to be overcoming the trauma they are presently experiencing.”
* Dobijoki has moved on from Eva’s to pursue other endeavors, we wish her all the best on her journey!