U.S. Refugee Youth Consultation Reflection

The first ever U.S. Refugee Youth Consultation was held in Washington, D.C. from February 20-22, 2016. There were 25 refugee and asylum-seeking youth from 13 different countries at the event. Four youth represented ECDC at the consultation, two from the African Community Center in Denver, Colorado (an ECDC branch office) and two from The Acculturation for Justice, Access, and Peace Outreach in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (an ECDC affiliate).

During the two-and-a-half-day consultation, the youth engaged in an art project to share their stories and they led several brainstorming sessions to identify the root causes, impacts, and possible solutions for four challenges faced by youth before, during, and after migration: 1) educational barriers, 2) struggles with cultural adjustment, 3) language barriers, and 4) discrimination/bullying.

Following the consultation, three youth participants from ECDC shared their thoughts about the consultation and how they plan to help their community.

ECDC Youth

Prabhat Adhikari (Bhutan)

“As a participant of the first ever Refugee Youth Consultation in the U.S., I had an amazing experience connecting with other youth members from incredibly diverse backgrounds. The consultation allowed me to learn about their stories and provided a platform to share my own.

The activity I liked the most was the table discussion session in which we talked about the most important challenges faced by refugee and migrant youth. By working in teams, and speaking from our collective experiences, we were able to come up with a lot of ideas about the causes, impacts, and possible solutions to these challenges; the summary of which was presented at the stakeholder meeting.

Overall, I think the consultation was very productive, and I am confident that it will inspire positive change that will help refugee and migrant youth in the future.”

Muhammad Ibraim Soe (Burma)

“As refugees and immigrants arrive in a new country, it feels like they are starting their life all over again. When I first came to the U.S., I could not attend high school because of my age. On my identification card my age was listed as 18, but that was not my real age. When I realized that, I lost my hopes and dreams. A month later, I found a school called the New America School for students between the ages of 18 to 21. Even there, I felt like I had to start all over again. The education system was new and I had to juggle between ESL and credit course requirements. I managed to attend school full-time and work full-time. I worked hard and did not give up my studies.

Now, I accomplished my first goal – I got my high school diploma and enrolled in college. My wish is to help newly arrived refugees in my community to navigate the school system, assist them in translating school materials, and create a better support network.”

Gregoire Paluku  (Democratic Republic of Congo)

“The U.S. Refugee Youth Consultation was the most amazing program for me. I loved the connection, the teamwork, support, and most of all I liked how the organizing committee members saw potential in each of us. One thing I learned from this consultation is how to help other people by being an advocate for them. During the consultation, the 25 of us worked together and became like a family. It made me realize that together we can make a change and we can be that one loud voice.

I plan to share the knowledge I gained during the consultation with my fellow refugees. Together, we will try to find the root causes of the problems we are facing as newly arrived refugees, discuss on how it affects us and our community, and then come up with solutions on how to prevent it from happening again.”

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Axumite Heritage Foundation Photo Gallery

A couple of weeks ago, our Public and Community Relations Officer traveled to Axum, Ethiopia, and captured many great photos of the ‘Inda Nebri’id and the new library under construction. Many of the students studying there mentioned the library was a fantastic resource to supplement their materials at the local university. Check out the pictures below!

2015 First Refugee Thanksgiving

This Sunday was our annual First Refugee Thanksgiving, where we invites refugees from our communities in the Washington, D.C. area to celebrate their first Thanksgiving in the United States with us. Check out some of our photos below!

Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope (second left) helps serve food to our refugees.

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Katherine Parra (left) and Erick Pierola (right) enjoying Thanksgiving dinner together. Both are originally from Bolivia and arrived to the United States at the ages of 11 and 7, respectively.

Katherine Parra (left) and Erick Pierola (right) enjoying Thanksgiving dinner together. Both are originally from Bolivia and arrived to the United States at the ages of 11 and 7, respectively.

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Children enjoying the festivities with their families.

Children enjoying the festivities with their families.

Clients of a variety of ages and nationalities celebrating the evening through dance.

Clients of a variety of ages and nationalities celebrating the evening through dance.

Success Stories: Syrian family hoping to make Tampa their home (via WFLA)

A FANTASTIC example of our affiliates’ hard work to welcome Syrian refugees with open arms and help them rebuild their lives. Great work, Coptic Orthodox Charities!

Source: Syrian family hoping to make Tampa their home (via WFLA News Channel 8)

In the last few months, thousands of refugees have fled by boat across the Mediterranean. Ten years ago, one of our local ECDC staff was one of them.

He shares his story that so many others now face, and why the perilous journey is worth everything.

If I could try to put ordinary people in the shoes of refugees who have fled and continue to flee for their lives today, I would tell them that there is one main force, above all others, that drives a person to take any risk necessary in search of a better  life: freedom.
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Greeks Supporting Migrants—A Young Greek Perspective on Mass Migration to Europe

Generation 2.0 for Rights, equality, and Diversity (Courtesy of website)

When people refer to the mass refugee flows from Syria and most recently from Afghanistan as a “migrant crisis,” it only preserves the distorted image most people in Europe and the rest of the world have about these people.

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Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

On April 29, 2015, the Guardian news wrote about a leaked United Nations (UN) report that accused French soldiers of sexually abusing young boys aged eight to 15 at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic (CAR).  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 2015 country operations profile on CAR shows that 535,000 people are living as IDPs after violence erupted between Christians and Muslims in December 2013. France sent troops to its former colony in late 2013, and the UN sent peacekeeping missions in September 2014 to stabilize the country and provide aid to countless people who were affected by the ethno-religious conflict.

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