Jaivet Ealom was born in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), where he gained a first-hand experience of the persecution of the Rohingya minority to which he belongs. Making his escape by air and sea, he was detained en route to Australia and spent four and a half years in an offshore detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. There he witnessed how a democratically elected government could detain large groups of refugees indefinitely and without due process.
He left the island prison in unusual circumstances, becoming known as “the only person to escape from the Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre.” After a period of time in the South Pacific, Jaivet made his way to the Toronto airport on Christmas Eve of 2017. The account of that remarkable journey is captured in his book Escape from Manus (Penguin Australia, 2021).
He joined the leadership team of the Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative, a not-for-profit that advocates for the cause of the Rohingya people. He also enrolled at the University of Toronto, where he is a full-time student of Economics and Political Science.
Motivated by his lived experience of political oppression, Jaivet has become a staunch advocate of improving the refugee system, particularly through the use of innovative and scalable solutions. As Manager of NeedsList, a global crisis coordination relief enterprise, he promotes the use of technology to better meet the social and material needs of refugees.
Through RAN, Jaivet hopes to build upon his understanding of refugee issues to help develop decision-making processes that give voice to and address the needs of refugees worldwide.