A fresh start.
A stable foundation.
A place to raise my family and build memories.
When you ask your neighbor, friend or a person on the street what home means to them, these are the responses you might expect. When you ask a refugee the question, the answers are the same but the sense of wistfulness and uncertainty for the future is palpable.
Whenever I meet with refugees, the word that comes up over and over again in our conversations is home. Home is the country, the community and the family that refugees have been forced to leave behind, and home is also the future – the place they want to return to
The sharpest contrast between what home means for me and what it means for a refugee is that they long for what they left behind but are forced to focus on the future. Once they’ve fled devastating circumstances, they’re in unfamiliar surroundings, yearning for a safe place to call home.
When a family has been forced to flee their home it is vital that we do all we can to keep everyone safe and together. The family unit becomes the only ‘home’ refugees have and being separated compounds an already dangerous and terrifying experience, especially for children. UNHCR's work to help families stay together in times of extreme stress and upset is crucial, and with our support, families can stay safe, find home again and rebuild their lives.
As we mark another World Refugee Day, think about what home means to you and the incredible gift we can give to refugees who have been torn from theirs.
By Anne-Marie Grey
Anne-Marie Grey is the Executive Director and CEO of USA for UNHCR, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Washington D.C. dedicated to raising funds and awareness for refugees and the work of UN Refugee Agency and its partners. June 20 is World Refugee Day.