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June 18, 2019

Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask a Refugee


When you hear the word “refugee” what immediately comes to mind?

Is it an image of a person or a family in a camp? Is it of someone fleeing violence? Are they old or young? A man or a woman?

Many people have formed a mental image of refugees and their experiences, but it may not be the most accurate. In partnership with BuzzFeed, USA for UNHCR produced this video to give refugees a chance to answer honest questions about themselves and their experiences.

By showcasing a wide range of refugees and a mix of serious and hilarious questions, we’re revealing the diversity of the refugee experience and offering a unique look at these inspiring young people.

Meet the Cast

Ahmed Badr

Ahmed is a writer, social entrepreneur, poet and former Iraqi refugee working at the intersection of creativity, displacement and youth empowerment. In 2006, Ahmed's home in Baghdad was bombed by militia troops. He and his family fled to Syria and two and a half years later were resettled in the United States. Ahmed founded Narratio, a platform for youth empowerment through creative expression.

Jessi Calzado-Esponda

Jessi is a former refugee from Cuba who arrived to the United States via a boat in the mid-90s with her grandmother. She is the Washington, DC representative for Refugee Congress, a national resettlement advocacy group run by refugees. In 2016, she established Cuba Inspires, a company that arranges VIP events and cultural exchanges in Cuba, with efforts to further support the transitioning Cuban society.

Lourena Gboeah

Lourena was resettled to the United States in 1992 when she was only four years old after her family fled the war in Liberia. Lourena is committed to serving the public through her volunteer, work and educational experiences. She is the Delaware representative for Refugee Congress.

Mustafa Nuur

Forced to flee Somalia after terrorists killed his father, Mustafa lived as a refugee in Kenya for nearly a decade before being resettled to the U.S. He founded the organization Bridge – a supper club where experiences are hosted by local refugee families with the hope of connecting with their neighbors.

Edafe Okporo

Edafe is the Executive Director of RDJ Refugee Shelter, an advocate for human rights of LGBTQ, immigrants and minorities. He is the author of “BED 26: A Memoir of an African Man's Asylum in United States.” Edafe fled persecution from his home country Nigeria, arriving in the United States in October 2016.

George Tarr

George and his family were resettled to the United States in the late 90s after fleeing Liberia. George is a Youth and Education delegate for Refugee Congress.