Can GirlForward's Superior Program Structure For Refugee Girls Be Applied To American Girls?

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Can GirlForward's Superior Program Structure For Refugee Girls Be Applied To American Girls?

The Austin, Texas branch of Girl Forward, a nonprofit founded in Chicago in 2011, is run exclusively by millennial women for high-school age refugee girls. Politico profiled the group in November 2018, landing in Austin. because Texas is second only to California in its refugee population.

GirlForward is predicated on the notion that refugee girls face particular hardships due not only to the tumultuous circumstances of their upbringing and relocation but also their gender. “Oftentimes, our girls haven’t been able to pursue education in the same way their brothers have,” Shannon Elder, 24, GirlForward’s Austin development manager, observes. “In countries of conflict, girls’ access to education can be much more limited than it is for boys,” said Arielle Levin, who runs the mentorship program. GirlForward recruits refugees through Austin nonprofits, schools, and word of mouth. It tries specifically to recruit the oldest daughter in a family, reasoning that they are usually shouldered with the heaviest burdens. “A lot of my family don’t speak English,” said Storai Rana, an 18-year-old refugee from Afghanistan, “so there was so many responsibilities of things I had to do. Like I had go to the bank, to the market,” she said.

Girl Forward attempts to help its girls lead lead full and rich lives, moving behind tangible tools like opening a checking account or learning how to use the local library.

Fatima Mirzakhail, an 18-year-old refugee, told Politico’s Ethan Epstein that her initial optimism on arriving in America and leaving her war-torn country of Afghanistan soon evaporated. “In Afghanistan I felt like I was in a box, and I couldn’t fly anywhere.” Fatima explained. Her expectations that life in America would be so different soon evaporated. Before becoming part of Girl Forward, “I was crying all the time, hating myself,” she said.  Now Fatima is blossoming “planning on attending a local community college next year before transferring to UT. “

Halima Aden's TEDx Talk From Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

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Halima Aden's TEDx Talk From Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

Rising fashion star Halima Aden made another appearance in the pages of Vogue Arabia, posing in the November 2018 for images by An Le. The AOC post prompted me to circle back to watch Halima Aden’s TEDx Talk in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp, now that it’s available online.

Aden expressed profound thanks for getting the opportunity to revisit the Kakuma, which was founded in 1992 and is currently home to more than 185,000 inhabitants. “This camp taught me so many lessons and I’m so grateful I had the chance to return,” the model told her 620,000 Instagram followers. “A lot has changed since I’ve left but we still have along way to go.” 

At this moment when refugees are under assault globally, including in America, Halima’s words are deeply felt here at AOC. I also found this essay expressing in words by Halima many of the concepts expressed in her TEDX talk, posted on Dream Refugee.org.

Immersed in trying to piece together all of the refugee models and their intersections with each other, I momentarily forgot my own words from April 1, in which I already wrote that Halima Aden and Adut Akech were both born in the same refugee camp: Kakuma.

UN Ambassador Gigi Hadid Visits Jamtoli Refugee Camp In Bangladesh, Housing Rohingya Muslims

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UN Ambassador Gigi Hadid Visits Jamtoli Refugee Camp In Bangladesh, Housing Rohingya Muslims

Gigi Hadid has embarked on her first humanitarian mission as a UNICEF ambassador, visiting the Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh as part of a United Nations Children’s Fund initiative. The part Palestinian model is documenting her visit with Muslim children in Cox's Bazaar's Jamtoli Refugee Camp on her Instagram account. The Jamtoli Refugee Camp is currently home to approximately 45,000 Rohingya refugees who escaped Myanmar after the 2012 riots that resulted in the displacement of over 90,000 people.

The 23-year-old showed her 40 million followers a football game with some of the children, along with this text:

“As well as psychosocial work to help them get through trauma through activities like art, they also can play sports, learn music, and learn to read & draw (some for the first time in their lives). Separate from educational spaces, the importance of these spaces is huge due to the fact that refugee children can spend a majority of the day working, usually collecting fire wood from miles away so their families can cook, taking care of siblings, helping around the house, etc., and here they can just focus on having fun!”

Hadid also visited the ‘Women/Girl Friendly’ zones in the Jamtoli Camp: a safe place for females, young and old, to come learn basic education as well as personal hygiene, skills such as sewing, and also a place where they can share and connect with other women and girls.

AOC missed the June announcement that Gigi Hadid was joining HM Queen Rania of Jordan, Serena Williams, Priyanka Chopra and Katy Perry as a UNICEF International Ambassador.  We've never been critical of Gigi, including when she speaks in support of Palestinians, but it thrills us extra, when she puts her celebrity status to good works like this visit to Bangladesh. This is true beauty!!

Halima Aden Returns To Kakuma Refugee Camp In Kenya, Films TEDX Talk, Becomes UNICEF Ambassador

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Halima Aden Returns To Kakuma Refugee Camp In Kenya, Films TEDX Talk, Becomes UNICEF Ambassador

Model, beauty queen and humanitarian Halima Aden's life cup is overflowing with Gaia's bounty. 

"I was the first Muslim homecoming queen at my high school, the first Somali student senator at my college, and the first hijab-wearing woman in many places, like the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant, the runways of Milan and New York fashion weeks, and even on the historic cover of British Vogue," she explained in a recent (but not yet posted) TED Talk she gave at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya — another first, both for her and for TED, as it was the first talk streamed from a refugee camp in the program's history. But the visit also held a special significance for Halima, as it marked the first time she had returned to Kakuma after moving to the United States at age 7.

Child Bride Marriages Increase In Syrian Refugee Camps: Christiane Amanpour Investigates

Child Bride Marriages Increase In Syrian Refugee Camps: Christiane Amanpour Investigates

While Trump assures Americans that he will be tough on letting any Syrian refugees into America, more than half a million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring Jordan. CNN's Christiane Amanpour visits the Zaatari refugee camp outside Mafraq, Jordan, asking the key question about why our hearts have gone cold. Vanity Fair shares her investigation

More than 80,000 Syrians live in Zaatari, a sizable number of the more than 600,000 Syrians who have poured into Jordan since 2011. Amanpour introduces a topic not discussed about the worst side effects of the Syrian war: the rise of early marriage for girls, victims of poverty-stricken parents who often truly believe their daughters will be safer with a husband. 

Amanpour's Vanity Fair article is not fully available online, but she shares her thoughts in this February 2017 piece for CNN. 

Updated Encouraging News :Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize, Syria's White Helmets MAY Arrive For Oscars

"They are not yet on US soil, and we await their arrival with tense anticipation," said the filmmakers of Raed Saleh and Khaled Khateeb. "In these uncertain times, their story is one of the most moving of our generation. We stand ready to welcome them."

On Wednesday, the outlook was grim that the key figures in the Netflix film 'The White Helmets' would obtain the necessary paperwork to gain US visas in time for the Oscars. In 48 hours since Hollywood Reporter and websites far and wide rallied around the issue, the situation has improved dramatically. 

“We are eagerly looking forward to coming to the Oscars," said Saleh in a statement. "It will give us an important platform for the voices of Syrian children and women trapped under the rubble as a result of the airstrikes and artillery shelling, and for the voices of thousands of displaced Syrians who have been forced from their homes.”

“It is so important that people see the film. It is important that people understand that Syria has people who want the same things they want: peace, jobs, family and to live without the fear of bombs," added Khateeb. "If we win this award, it will show people across Syria that people around the world support them. It will give courage to every volunteer who wakes up every morning to run towards bombs."

Previously Wed. Feb. 15, 2017: There is deep concern in Hollywood that key international talents will not be present for the Academy Awards due to President Trump's executive order banning Syrians and others from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. 

Director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara's  Netflix film 'The White Helmets' is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. But it appears that the real heroes of the documentary will not be present at the Oscars. 

Every day in Syria, a group of ordinary, unarmed civilian volunteers known as the White Helmets risk their lives to help rescue men, women, and children injured by the incessant air raids destroying the country. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, the apolitical White Helmets are credited with saving more than 75,000 people since 2012. 

Now it appears unlikely that Raed Saleh, the leader of the White Helmets, and Khaled Khateeb, the photographer who filmed all of the documentary's footage inside Aleppo, will get the necessary travel documents to attend the Oscars. Vogue interviews Einsiedel and Natasegara about their relationship with the White Helmets, and why we must watch their documentary in today's political climate.