Helping Refugees with Success
After working with refugees for the past couple months, I have become more interested in refugees not only in the United States but around the entire world. There are millions of refugees around the world and they need help in many ways. They need their countries to stop fighting, food, immunizations, and much more. I want to focus on education and Syrian refugees.
I watched a Ted Talk by Melissa Flemming called “Let’s help refugees thrive, not just survive.” The experiences that Melissa shares are sad, scary, and some are touching. Some of the questions she asks refugees when she meets them are: who bombed your house? Who killed your son? Did the rest of your family make it out alive?
The most revealing question of them all is: “What did you take with you when you fled from your home?” This question is important because it shows what people truly care about most in their life. I would grab something that helps me with memories I have had with my family and friends. For a teenage boy in Syria, he decided to grab his high school diploma. His answer as to why he grabbed that was “my life depended on it” (Flemming, 2014). This boy would dodge snipers to get to school and sometimes the classroom would shake because of bombs being dropped and other fighting. This is a great example of how important education is to some people in that small village. Out of all the things he could have grabbed, the first thing he took with him to Lebanon was his diploma.
Lebanon has more refugees than any other country standing at 1 million. They only have 4 million citizens in Lebanon. There isn’t a single village, town, or city that does not host refugees. If the U.S. were to host the same percentage of refugees as Lebanon, they would accept all of Germany fleeing here in a period of 3 years (Flemming, 2014).
Out of the many refugee children in Lebanon, only 20% are enrolled in school. School is the most important part of their life because it allows them to think about their future and forget the violent past. The majority of all refugees want to return back to their homes but they wait an average of 17 years in exile (Flemming, 2014).
What can we do to help refugee children have success while waiting in exile? An important answer to that is education and youth groups. Melissa Flemming shared an inspiring story about how education helped a young refugee man have success in the U.S. He was from Sudan, whole family killed in one day when he was just 7 years old. He was chased by wild animals and gangs for 7 months until he found a refugee camp. He was there for 7 years then came to the U.S. In the camp he was able to go to school so he had some good education. When he was in the U.S. he lived with a great foster family, went to school pursing his PHD in public health. He was able to use this degree and raise money for people to travel to his village and help with immunizations. (Flemming, 2014).
I feel like education is something that can help refugees thrive rather than just survive in the United States and all other refugee camps. Since the U.S. doesn’t host very many refugees and we, as well as many other countries, need to do something about the education for young refugees. If going to a university is a luxury to a refugee, we definitely need to help them when they are younger so it is not a luxury.
In Nigeria because of all the issues going on in other countries, there are a lot of refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs). Because of this there are a lot of different challenges and struggles in each community. Nigeria believes education for these people is extremely important. “Education is a vital tool for individual, community, and national development,” (Obashoro-John & Oni, 2017). The main reasons for Nigeria to help refugees and IDPs with education is to help them build up their communities in the future. Melissa Flemming said “not investing in refugees is a huge missed opportunity, refugees can help stop the violence cycle.” That is what Nigeria is doing by helping with education for refugees.
In the article “Sudanese refugee youth and educational success: The role of church and youth group in supporting cultural and academic adjustment and schooling achievement,” it talks a lot about how young refugee students need to be involved in after school activities because it will help with their academic performance.
Participating in diverse extracurricular activities increases students’ engagement with schooling, aspirations and participation (Wilkinson, Santoro, & Major, 2017). This is important because they are investing in refugees. Helping refugees have success is extremely important. When we invest in these great people we will help them prepare to rebuild their homes, villages, hospitals, etc. They can be the generation that helps their country develop and have more success.
Flemming, M. (2014, October). Melissa Flemming: Let’s help refugees thrive, not just survive [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/melissa_fleming_let_s_help_refugees_thrive_not_just_survive
Obashoro-John, O.A. & Oni, G.J. (2017). Refugee Education: The State of Nigeria’s Preparedness. Universal Journal of Education Research, 5(6), 989-994.
Wilkinson, J., Santoro, N., & Major, J. (2017). Sudanese refugee youth and educational success: The role of church and youth group in supporting cultural and academic adjustment and schooling achievement. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 210. doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2017.04.003