Participating in the GRFGRF | Geneva, Switzerland
Kepler | SNHUAuthor: Gentille Dusenge & Sadiki Bamperineza
In December 2019, UNHCR organized and led the Global Refugee Forum. We, Gentille Dusenge and Sadiki Bamperineza, were honored to attend the forum as part of the refugee delegation. Sadiki is a Refugee College Guidance Counselor at Kepler and a Southern New Hampshire University Graduate who studied with Kepler. Gentille Dusenge is an SNHU student and a member of the Connected Learning in Crisis Consortium student engagement taskforce. We have jointly written to share our experience from the GRF as refugee delegates.
The GRF opened our eyes to refugees’ participation in solving global refugee issues. It increased our understanding of refugees’ ability to travel outside of countries of asylum and their contribution to the Global Compact. Finally, we had a chance to be connected to refugee education activists and organizations working with refugees.
Before the GRF, we thought that a refugee cannot attend international conferences, especially those organized for learning about refugee issues. However, our successful participation in the GRF has changed our perceptions of refugees’ participation in solving global issues. On the eve of the GRF, we attended the conference briefing session, where we were encouraged to speak up and talk to the media. We met other refugee delegates who were coming from Sub- Saharan Africa, MENA, South East Asia, Australia, South American, etc. All of them wanted to let the world know that refugees can contribute to international development plans if they are given a chance and opportunities. Thus, we learned that refugees can play a tangible role in changing their lives.
“For me, it was my first time to travel outside of Rwanda. I learned that it is possible to travel outside of the country of asylum despite challenges caused by travel documents that refugees hold.” – Gentille
We learned a lot about the Global Compact on Refugees from the GRF: the commitment of UNHCR to mobilize all countries in responsibility-sharing as a way of responding to the global refugee issue; and the GCR solutions of easing pressure to the host communities, enhancing the self-reliance of refugees, expanding access to resettlement and supporting conditions in the country of origin. From there, we are inspired to think about how refugees can play a part in the implementation of these solutions.
Our participation in the GRF motivated us to increase our involvement in refugee education. Gentille is determined to work for refugees: “ I have a goal to work for the UN one day. This is why I am looking forward to majoring in Humanitarian Issues after getting my BA degree which is set for this July. I want to work for one of the UN organizations to be fully able to support special initiatives conceived by refugees to bring out solutions to their barriers, and to push their limits, and it is from my dreams that I am one of the co-founders of the Me for You Organization which aims to increase refugees’ self-reliance through access to education and other sustainability measures.
Sadiki will keep supporting refugee students and work on the Tertiary Refugee Student Network (TRSN) pledge to connect refugee students on the global level so that they play a role in helping partners to work towards the goal of 15 percent of refugees accessing higher education by 2030.
“Seeing myself presenting the best practices about connected learning for higher education and meaningful employment at the Global Refugee Forum ignited a blaze of desire to work hard to support refugees’ access to higher education even though I am a refugee. Access to education for refugees puts them in the same line of development as other people and it should be the area of focus for people who support refugees. Students are connected, help each other, create synergies and the TRSN pledges to work more and harder to connect refugee students across the world to make them stronger students & role models.”
At the GRF we got a chance to connect with refugees coming from different parts of the world. Sadiki says, “ It is from the GRF that I was connected to the Geutanyoe Foundation working in Malaysia and Indonesia. From our discussion, we have arranged Omar’s participation in the Symposium on Access to Higher Education which took place in Abu Dhabi in February 2020”. This connection between refugees has triggered the spirit to work together in sharing opportunities and best practices for supporting one another.
To sum up, our participation in the GRF has increased our understanding of refugees’ participation in solving global issues and the Global Compact and connected us with different refugees who are supporting others in various ways. We are grateful to UNHCR and the CLCC for thinking about the participation of refugees in the GRF. We are determined to show the world that refugees are not a burden, but agents of change. Educating refugees is directly supporting the global community.
To read other stories from the 2019 CLCC Yearbook, click here.