Did you know that most Americans don’t know what it means to be a refugee or that there are more than 10 million refugees worldwide? We at the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program want to change that, and you can help.
Every year on June 20, World Refugee Day, the global community honors and celebrates survivors who were forced to flee their homes and countries due to fear of conflict, persecution, and violence. We celebrate their resilience and courage under difficult circumstances.
I was moved by that resilience, courage, and hope during my visit to the Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad last year. The stories I heard of Darfuris walking weeks or even months under strenuous conditions with nothing but the clothes on their back to reach safety made a lasting impression on me. Meeting with people to discuss education programs in the camps, I was struck by the undeniable sense of hope that students, teachers, camp elders, and parents shared for a better and peaceful future for themselves and their children.
According to UNHCR, 80 percent of the population in most refugee camps is made up of women and children. In the Darfuri refugee camps Darfur Dream Team works in, 60 percent of the residents are children, and education is vital for their future. With the help of sister schools in the United States – middle schools, high schools, colleges, universities – and other generous donors, DDT supports quality primary education in the Darfuri refugee camps. This assistance has been invaluable in nurturing the hopes and dreams for a better and more peaceful future in which education plays a significant role. For children living in the camps – some for nearly 10 years now – education is a rare possession that can never been taken from them.
DDT launched the Summer Service Challenge last year to get students, teachers, and community members in the United States learning and teaching others about lives of refugees in their communities and around the world – and, importantly, to raise awareness about what it means to be a refugee and how each one of us can help. By taking the challenge, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge of refugee and displacement issues, attend a World Refugee Day event in your area, host a movie/documentary screening, and volunteer at an organization that supports refugees in your community, among other activities. For each challenge completed, you will raise awareness and collect badges, leading to awesome rewards like books, DVDs, t-shirts, posters, ice cream coupons, and more.
This summer, I hope you will join us for the Summer Service Challenge and commit yourself to learning and sharing that knowledge with your family, friends, and community. It kicks off today, World Refugee Day and ends July 31. Whether you have 30 minutes or 30 days, you can make a difference this summer. For more details and to sign up visit darfurdreamteam.org!
Photo: Students in Djabal refugee camp show their new uniforms (Darfur Dream Team / Buky Williams)