In recognition of the United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day, we at World for Refugees recognize the unjust reality of those trapped in war not of their own doing. One of our many goals is to work with refugees to create a supportive and accepting platform where they can tell their stories in safety. Our Communications Team has reached out to refugees and displaced people from all over the world to help in rewriting the narrative of refugees’ realities. Our Communications Director, Will Adams, spoke with a Des Moines based refugee who was displaced from her childhood home in Tanzania at a young age. Her story was both candid and poignant.
The U.S. Committee for Refugee and Immigrants features the ethos “Everyone. Everywhere. Equal Value.” They believe that “the global family is strengthened when all of humanity is recognized.” The USCRI works to “redirect destinies of the world’s most vulnerable people” and they help to resettle refugees and many others in the United States.
Moved by their leadership and mission, our team reached out to see if a member of their organization’s leadership or a refugee with which the organization has worked would like speak with us about their story. That is when our Communications Director, Will Adams, got the chance to speak with Glorious, a refugee youth based in Des Moines, Iowa. In this article, we provide a brief look into the story of this youth leader and the lessons she has learned.
All over the world, people of all ages are faced with crippling violence and political turmoil. When asked about why she left home, Glorious replied, “I was born in Tanzania. It’s a country in East Africa. There was a war going on. The government kicked everyone out. It’s either you stay in the country and get killed or you leave.”
Will: So you could stay there and risk getting killed?
Glorious: No. If you stayed there they would kill you.
Glorious’ response was matter-of-fact. It serves to give insight into how she, as a young girl of only 7 or 8 understood the situation that took place in her childhood home. With over half of the world’s refugees being children, it is important to understand how such a life-altering crisis affects each person. When asked about her first experience after she left her home country, Glorious confided, “I came here as an immigrant … when I was pretty young. …For the first two weeks I got bullied and I was made fun of…I did not go there for fourth grade I just dropped out.”
Though she faced a difficult start in her new home, Glorious grew to be an inspiring and strong young woman. She has learned from her past and has turned her strife into passion. Now, a sophomore in college, she encourages “other immigrants like [her] to never give up.”
“Know that today will never be the same as tomorrow. You might have the pain today but tomorrow will always be a brand new day.”
On the importance of youth involvement in the refugee crisis, Glorious concluded the interview saying, “Most of the people who are refugees the same age as me, they like to speak out about their stories, some were attacked… it’s a good thing to speak out on how you feel. Everyone has a story to tell. It’s [important] to be open minded. You have to educate yourself because no one will do that for you, except you.”
This was not Glorious’ first interview, and surely it will not be her last. At school, she is involved in activities supporting refugees and we find her story to be an inspiration to other youth refugees out there who may have had a difficult start. We learned that it is possible to turn life’s difficulties into compassion, and we hope that others will learn and use this as well.
To those facing unjust violence and displacement, you are not a target. We urge you to speak up and speak out against injustice that you see you happening in your communities and around the world. Together, we can create a world for refugees.