Bloggers Unite is an opportunity for bloggers to use their space to make the world a better place. Today, Bloggers Unite has urged participants to raise our voices on behalf of more than 40 million voiceless refugees. In researching this crisis, one particular statistic spoke to me deeply: “An estimated 80% of refugees are women and children.” Easy prey when it comes to abduction and violence, defenseless and frightened refugee children seem to be the most voiceless victims of war and global crisis.
As I dug further in my research, I came across a UN site featuring the artwork of refugee children. Visual and performing art have been two vital forms of expression and recreation for me since childhood. I quickly realized that one inroad to giving refugees a voice, is to speak to them in languages that are universal, cross-cultural and understood by all. And to provide them with resources and education that will allow them to do the same. Kicking a soccer ball is fun, thrilling, and empowering whether you are in Des Moines or Darfur. Dancing, singing and athletics can all help young refugees regain bits of their childhoods which in many cases are lost to terror, uncertainty, and persecution. Here are three (of many!) organizations that aim to do just that:
ninemillion.org campaign: A partnership between the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in partnership with Nike and Microsoft, that aims to give more than nine million refugee children better access to education, sport and technology by 2010. Runners around the world have already raised over a million dollars and heightenedawareness of the plight and the potential of refugee children.
A.R.T. (Art for Refugees in Transition): This organization provides curriculum and training programs to engage both children and adults in refugee communities in visual, performing and creative arts drawn from their own cultures, aiding in recovery from the trauma, terror and dislocation of war.
The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children: This group has an extensive gallery of photo essays, some of which include moving and informative artwork from refugee children.
How can we help these organizations and others support the plight of refugees? Contributions and donations are always needed. Activism is essential and costs little except your time. Ask Congress to support the International Violence Against Women Act, legislation that would make ending violence against women and girls a a key priority in U.S. foreign assistance programs. The International Rescue Committee has a great website thejourneystartswithyou.org, that gives lots of ideas and motivation for how to volunteer and assist the IRC’s 24 resettlement offices, and their efforts on the ground in 42 countries.
Most of all we need to educate ourselves, and those around us. By teaching the children in our world to have a global perspective, a love for the environment and respect for themselves and others, we are producing a future where understanding is the basis for action and reaction. Ignorance is a contributing factor to war and crisis. It is my hope that increased understanding will prevent or lessen such atrocities, or at the very least provide us with caring individuals to meet the needs of those least fortunate. On the ball field or court, voices raised in song, dancing together…these are life’s moments when it seems little “work” is needed for us to all gather together in true understanding and peace.