In 2021, we met countless courageous individuals who used their voices to create a more generous and compassionate world for refugees, stateless and displaced people. Through their experiences, we witnessed how strong voices cannot be silenced. These powerful stories also moved us to do more: from sending essential supplies to displaced people in Ethiopia and Afghanistan, to bringing Americans together in support of vaccine equity and resettlement. We are grateful to these voices that uplifted, inspired and moved us to take action for displaced and stateless people.
As we reflect on this year, we thank the brave storytellers who stepped up to share their journeys in hopes that they could empower others. Take a moment to meet just a few of the individuals who gave us hope in 2021.
Chantale Zuzi: Chantale was a featured storyteller from USA for UNHCR’s Refugee Youth Storytellers Celebration. She has faced countless challenges since birth, from being persecuted for her albinism to being forced to flee conflict in her home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With the support of RefuSHE, Chantale used her voice to step up for others and is now a college student in the United States with hopes of working for the United Nations.
Hangama Amiri: Hangama was seven years old when her family was forced to flee Afghanistan. Growing up as a refugee, she always found comfort in art. Using a pencil and paper gave her a sense of freedom from her circumstances, and after resettling to Canada in 2005, she wanted to begin using her art to share her experiences as a refugee. In 2020, she graduated from Yale University with a Master of Fine Arts degree and in 2021, she designed the official World Refugee Day emoji.
Abdallah Obaidi: Abdallah was another featured storyteller from the Refugee Youth Storytellers Celebration. His family was forced to flee their home in Iraq after a bomb destroyed Abdallah’s elementary school classroom. He grew up in Jordan and eventually resettled in the United States. Although he faced many challenges when he began school, he overcame them and found his passion for healthcare and using his voice to uplift others. Now, he’s a medical student at Tufts University pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor.
Biar Atem: In 2021, Biar became the newest member of USA for UNHCR’s board of directors, but he’s always had a passion for using his voice to support displaced people. As one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, he was forced to flee his home at a very young age. Now, he’s a successful businessman and entrepreneur in Las Vegas and the founder of the South Sudan Center of America where he uses his experience to support other Sudanese refugees.
Daiana Lilo: Daiana is a Harvard student and member of United Stateless, a nonprofit organization that brings attention to issues of statelessness in the United States. Due to complications of being born without birthright citizenship, Daiana has encountered many obstacles from being unable to get a driver’s license to struggling to secure financial aid for college. When she finishes her degree at Harvard, she hopes to attend law school and become a judge where she can help change policies for other stateless individuals.
How you can help…
In 2021, the support of USA for UNHCR’s compassionate donors has provided essential aid and helped offer life-changing opportunities for displaced people around the world. But, we can always do more. By becoming a monthly donor, you can help protect and empower displaced people as they begin to rebuild their lives.