Education is one of six themes at the centre of the GRF, critical to the support of refugees and the countries that host them. The Spotlight Session focused on tertiary education for refugees, through a conversation about how barriers are being overcome, how interventions are improving the quality or expanding the quantity of opportunities available, and ultimately, how higher education pathways can support self-reliance and solutions for refugees.
The project consisted of recruiting refugees from the camp and members from the host communities as Refugee Outreach Volunteers. Additionally, UNV used its refugee-to-refugee volunteer modality to recruit and deploy one refugee identified in the camp as a UN Volunteer. The Refugee Outreach Volunteers served with UNHCR and were provided with the necessary capacities, knowledge and resources to contribute to addressing their own protection needs.
Serving with the IOM Durable Solutions Programme, Leena recognizes the opportunity to consult people with various backgrounds as a real asset in her daily activities as a UN Volunteer. She sees the diversity of their ideas and opinions as a rich resource to build cohesion and sustainable solutions.
Volunteerism strengthens civic engagement, social inclusion, solidarity and ownership. It also builds capacities, ownership and connections between local communities and national authorities for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Samara Hamid, a national UN Youth Volunteer Site Planner and Project Associate with IOM, believes that by becoming a volunteer one can extend knowledge and skills in the humanitarian and development sector.
Growing up, Ann Kamunya witnessed first-hand egregious violations of human rights — in particular, against women. This completely changed her perspective of and outlook on life, and what she wanted to do with hers.
"I went to school with so many girls who were forced into arranged marriages at a very young age or had to go through genital mutilation," she says. "Witnessing these injustices and being surrounded by people who couldn’t speak up for themselves, I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent the marginalized and the least privileged people."
“Through my experience with the refugees, I have found the real meaning of my life.” With these words, Endah Ayuningsih Yuliarso (Indonesia, 33) summarizes her life-changing experience, which demarcated a shift in her personal career from dealing with numbers to supporting refugees.
“Most of my career as a lawyer was spent representing corporations and high net worth individuals. I always felt that my efforts mostly ended up adding digits in someone’s bank account,” explains Endah.
“Some people begin to see refugees as numbers — or even worse, as threats,” says Anja Ingabire, a UN volunteer with UNHCR in Jordan. “Behind each refugee there are personal stories of loss and tragedy. Every story is unique and touches you in a different way. It is the person who makes the story.”
As we sit on our comfortable couches at home and watch TV or read articles about refugees in areas of crisis or conflict, it is easy to become desensitized to the plight of this most vulnerable demographic.
Liliia Huzeieva, 22, will never forget the summer of 2014. Just a teenager at the time, Liliia was forced to leave her hometown of Donetsk shortly before the armed conflict escalated in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
“The hardest part was not only losing my home, but also being separated from part of my family,” Liliia says. “My father decided to stay in Donetsk as he didn’t want to leave, so I don’t see him anymore.”
This displacement motivated Liliia to seek the good in an otherwise tragic situation by resolving to help others who faced similar adversities.
When the war in Syria began in 2011, Elsie Aroyan was working as an elementary school teacher in her hometown of Aleppo. But instead of teaching a lesson one day, Elsie would learn one that would change the trajectory of her life.
“My husband and I were in a remote city visiting our relatives when the situation in Aleppo became worse and we couldn’t go back home,” she says. “When I closed the door of my apartment 8 years ago, I thought I would be leaving for a week, but ended up leaving my home for good.”
Farah Nassef, 26, knows how easy it is to lose everything and be driven out of your home.
“One of my relatives was forced to leave the country to avoid the forced military conscription of her sons. She left her house, friends, and the life she had built up for decades due to the devastating consequences of the war,” Farah explains.