Each year on June 20, we celebrate World Refugee Day. This is a special day set aside by the United Nations to honour refugees and displaced persons around the world. It is a day that celebrates the resilience and courage of those who have been forced to flee their homes and countries to escape war, conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is also a day to build understanding for their predicament and to acknowledge their strength in rebuilding their lives.
This year’s focus was on the right to seek safety: “Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety.” – UNHCR World Refugee Day. For us at Borderless360, we decided to applaud and highlight the work, art and voices of our refugee friends and supporters throughout the month of June 2022.
Everyone has the right to seek safety. We decided to approach this human right to seek safety through the perspective of healing and celebrating community, mutual care, and the human ability to rebuild and start again. Our Borderless360 team reached out to our refugee friends and others to share their thoughts, feelings, art, or other work about healing, coping and moving forward. We heard from photographers, visual and craft artists, writers, and those waiting in refugee camps and third countries.
One contributor was Abdul Kalam, a Rohingya refugee who shared his black and white photo of a child at play in the refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. For Abdul, photography is a way to heal from the trauma of fleeing his home country as a boy and living in the refugee camp for more than 20 years before he was reunited with his family again in Cox’s Bazar. Photography is Abdul’s contribution to his community. Support his work and check out his photos on his website.
|Photo by Abdul Kalam|
There are many reasons why some people are forced to leave their home countries and become refugees. Gay Say from Karen State in Myanmar shared his story with us on why he had to flee his home to seek safety in a nearby country. Now, he wants to heal and be stronger each day. He wants to forget the past and move on. He will study and work hard to get a better life.
For others like J.C. Koum, Yalina and Brianna, art is their path to healing. J.C. Koum writes poetry to deal with the trauma of childhood abuse and domestic violence while Yalina, a refugee from Pakistan, paints whenever she is stressed so that she can “ignore that stress and move forward”. For her, creativity, education and online interaction with other students and teachers have contributed to her healing process. She is one of our B360 Inclusive Education Initiative (IEI) pre-GED programme students. The classes keep her busy and happy. She adds that her teachers are “so funny, they make us laugh out loud.”
Brianna, also from Pakistan, crochet stitching has helped her cope with the trauma of poor health and coping with the restrictions and difficulties of living as a refugee and single mother in a new country. “It is not easy to live in (a) place where you don't know the people, you don't know the language…We have so many barriers here. But I make it easy with my art, with my work.”
If you have any art in your hand and you can do anything writing, painting, knitting crochet, or sewing, stitching, anything you can do if you can make it easy for you….When I create something, I feel so much happier.
- Brianna, Pakistan
Others like asylum-seeker, Jeromya from Sri Lanka, have also found safety in another country and are learning to live and thrive where they are. Jeromya is passionate about helping and working with other refugees in future. She understands what they go through, having been one herself.
Apart from the contributions sent to us online, we also enjoyed meeting some of our friends in Thailand. We organized a social gathering for refugees, asylum seekers and our organisation supporters from Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Singapore, Myanmar, and other countries on June 28. It was hosted by our Borderless360 Head, Geraldine Ang, at Na Café at Bangkok 1899. This was a fun occasion to foster understanding, community as well as to show support for each other through games, art, music, and of course, food! Thank you!
We are grateful to everyone for their contributions for World Refugee Day and for helping us to continue to recognize the plight and resilience of refugees and displaced people around the world and to do what we can to help as a community. Borderless360’s Inclusive Education Initiative is our way of working towards providing educational opportunities that can help refugees access quality education and other learning opportunities and tools so that they may have the tools to safely apply for jobs, find a way out of their plight, or carve out a new life wherever they are.