A group of young people in sportswear posing in front of a football goal.
Ghita* (fifth from the left), UN Youth Volunteer with UNHCR, after a football game organized for the children and youth of the Bhar Lazreg UNHCR Shelter in June 2022.

Creating hope away from home for refugees in Tunisia

On World Refugee Day, we recognize the dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to create a world where refugees are always included. This year's theme, Hope Away from Home, resonates deeply with Rafaella* and Ghita,* two UN Youth Volunteers serving with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Tunisia. Their steadfast commitment to the refugee cause exemplifies the power of empathy, compassion and perseverance.

The journey of Ghita (27) in protection and promotion of refugees’ rights began while she was still in high school. She was selected for an internship in Geneva, Switzerland, where she was introduced to an association active in the promotion of human rights. This experience laid the foundation for her future endeavors to contribute to development and assist refugees and asylum seekers.

Ghita brings a diverse background in marketing studies and a passion for humanitarian action to her role in community-based protection. Her assignment enables her to delve deeper into the vulnerabilities of forcibly displaced and stateless people. Ghita has educated herself on the geopolitical contexts and history of their countries of origin.

Every case is unique. Every person under UNHCR’s mandate requires careful attention and tailored service. I feel accountable for every person I meet who needs international protection. --Ghita, UN Youth Volunteer with UNHCR, Tunisia

Together with her colleagues at UNHCR, she helps bring awareness to the issues currently being faced, not only in Tunisia, but across the globe. Through the activities organized for communities, she jointly collaborates with refugees and asylum seekers to mend many bridges.

Ghita is dedicated to advocating for good practices that safeguard and ensure the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and other individuals who are displaced or stateless. Her commitment extends to ensuring that UNHCR's beneficiaries have adequate access to basic public services and opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.

It is important that partners, including government and local authorities, realize that everyone can make a difference in responding to the ongoing serious refugee crisis. We are on the ground to help innocent civilians who are being forcibly displaced and deprived of their fundamental rights. --Ghita, UN Youth Volunteer with UNCHR, Tunisia

Rafaella* (29) embarked on her journey of volunteering long before joining UNHCR. Her previous experiences teaching language classes to refugees in Geneva and volunteering in a community center in a Greek refugee camp. These deepened her commitment to refugee protection.

As an UN Volunteer supporting refugee status determination, Raffaella has been playing a vital role in conducting interviews, actively listening to refugees' stories and ensuring a safe space for them to share their experiences. Her assignment is fully funded by the Government of Switzerland.

Building trust and establishing human connections are at the core of her work. They enable her to identify specific needs and vulnerabilities and collaborate effectively with colleagues and implementing partners.

Often it is the first time that an applicant opens up to tell his/her entire story. Therefore, I deeply value the human interaction our work offers us. Building this sense of trust is crucial to facilitate identification of specific needs and taking appropriate action to address them. It is also an enriching source of self-reflection and life lessons. --Rafaella, UN Youth Volunteer with UNHCR, Tunisia

In a world where displacement and forced migration continue to challenge the lives of millions, the contributions of volunteers like Ghita and Raffaella remind us of the power of inclusion and the pursuit of solutions for refugees.

Through their dedication, empathy and expertise, they have made a lasting impact on the lives of those seeking refuge. They embody the spirit of compassion and solidarity and are creating hope away from home.

International UN Youth Volunteer Raffaella at the UNHCR office in Zarzis, south of Tunisia.
International UN Youth Volunteer Raffaella at the UNHCR office in Zarzis, south of Tunisia. ©UNHCR, 2023

*Last names have been withheld to protect the identities of the UN Volunteers.