Refugee Stories

Dedicated teachers inspire refugees who have lost everything

For many refugee students school isn’t just a place to learn, it’s a place to find hope and a place to dream. And teachers are the key to making those dreams come true. They remind refugees that no matter what they have been through, a better future can still lie ahead.

From music to computer sciences and everything in between, these teachers are using their skills and knowledge to help the next generation dream and succeed.


Ngesti from Tigray teaches in Sudan

After being uprooted from their home in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Ngesti Gudamadhen and her family fled to Sudan where they began rebuilding their lives in the Um Rakuba refugee camp. Ngesti is a volunteer teacher in the camp. Teaching doesn’t just give her something to do, it gives her hope for the future.  "These children are the next generation coming up. Some will be doctors, teachers, pilots. I don't just dream for them…teaching plays a role in building a generation,” she shares.


Stacie teaches refugees students in Phoenix

Stacie Merrin began her career as a police officer in the Phoenix Police Department. For Stacie, being a police officer was always about giving back, but now she gives back in a whole new way. After retiring from the police force, Stacie went back to school to get her teaching certification and became a teacher for resettled refugee and immigrant students who’ve recently arrived in the United States. Stacie continues to inspire and be inspired by her students every day.


Ramiro, dedicated teacher from Ecuador

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramiro Rodriguez Canticus, a teacher in the remote San Marcos community in Ecuador, has gone above and beyond to make sure his students continue to learn. Every week he walks to the nearest urban center, a 12-hour walk, to collect books and materials for his students to read and study. Many of the children in Ramiro’s community have had to leave everything behind due to conflict and would not have the opportunity to learn were it not for the remarkable commitment of their teacher.

Ana Vanessa

Music teacher Ana Vanessa starts music program for Venezuelans

After fleeing from economic crisis and insecurity, many Venezuelans take refuge in Chile, leaving behind their lives, passions and talents. But Ana Vanessa Marvez, a music teacher in Chile, is committed to helping inspire the next generation and reignite their musical passions. She created the Music for Integration Foundation, which enables displaced musicians to come together to express themselves through cultural arts in their host country. Through her foundation, Ana Vanessa has created an opportunity for Venezuelan refugees to find their place and feel secure in Chile, a feeling many have struggled to find since leaving home.


Grace teaches computers in Kakuma

When Grace Nshimiyumukiza was growing up in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, she did not have the same opportunities for learning that her students have today. But now, thanks to Microsoft and UNHCR’s Connected Education program, a project aimed at teaching computer skills and providing livelihood opportunities to 25,000 Kakuma youth, Grace is helping other refugees develop the skills they need to succeed. As a digital skills teacher, Grace’s goal is “to get youth and women and everybody who lives in Kakuma from a position whereby you depend, to a position where you become very independent.”

This Teacher’s Day we’re celebrating the amazing educators who are leading by example and inspiring their students to follow their dreams. No matter where they teach or what subject they specialize in, teachers remind us that It is never too late to learn something new and follow your dreams.

How you can help…

The returns on investing in refugee education are far-reaching. Quality education, passionate teachers and a safe place to learn help refugee children prepare for the future and recover from past trauma. Join us providing these opportunities to displaced children around the world by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor.

May 4 2021
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