When you think of the idea of “home,” what comes to mind?
For many of us, “home” is the foundation of our lives. It may be where we grew up with family, signifying an emotional connection to the memories of our childhood. It may also represent a source of comfort, protection, and safety that we often take for granted.
Yet for the over 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, the notion of “home” carries a vastly different meaning. For refugees, home is the place from which they fled wars, violence, and persecution—a stark contrast from the feelings of comfort, peace, and safety which we associate with home. To many refugees, returning home is a hope for the next generation.
For many of us, the idea of “home” bears childhood memories of playing with neighborhood friends in a suburban backyard; coming home from a long day of school to relax on the couch and settle in watching our favorite television show. As we grow older and begin to relocate for school, work or travels, we may associate “home” with our city or country where we made our wonderful childhood memories. But what we oftentimes do not realize is that there are also over 10 million stateless people in the world who are denied a nationality, often lacking access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, and employment, according to the UNHCR. Statelessness is often caused by discrimination on the base of ethnicity, religion, or gender, and these individuals face significant challenges to obtain a better future for themselves and their families. Stateless people do not have a country to call home.
Despite these unfortunate realities, there are things that we can do to make a difference and help refugees find “home”. Almost everyone has heard the phrase, “Home is where the heart is.” and by working to provide refugees with access to basic rights and amenities in their host countries and advocating for inclusive policies, individuals of any age or background can take action and help refugees find a place to raise their families in peace and safety, make new memories, and pursue a brighter future.
Now, think again, what comes to mind when you think of “home”? In the context of growing campaigns for refugee rights, there is an urgent need for unified voices of empathy and compassion. We are living in an age where having a place to call home is a privilege, not a shared right; where, instead of feelings of nostalgia and comfort, there is hostility and fear. To enact truly sustainable changes, we must not do work for others, but with others.
It is important for all of us to acknowledge the hardships faced by the millions of refugees and displaced people worldwide. By challenging hatred and intolerance wherever it may appear, we can show the world that we stand with refugees and are committed to creating a world of peace and acceptance. By standing in solidarity and using our voices to demand change, we can overcome those who seek to divide us and provide a welcoming environment for all refugees—a place to call home.