Imagine for a moment, you are fleeing war with a sick child, an elderly parent, and limited money to move them all safely to a neighboring country. Now, imagine the refugee camp where you’ve arrived is overcrowded and deeply under-funded. Do you risk your family’s life to cross the Mediterranean with no guarantee of a better future, or do you stay in the camp hoping one day your country will find peace and you can finally go home?
These are just a few of the impossible choices refugees around the world face on a daily basis, and a few of the scenarios participants confront when they take part in Oxfam’s Refugee Road.
On Tuesday, Nov 28th, TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, hosted Oxfam’s Refugee Road event at its Needham headquarters as part of its ongoing corporate and philanthropic commitment to address the global refugee crisis. Oxfam America developed Refugee Road as an innovative and interactive way to raise awareness of the more than 65 million people around the world who have been forced from their homes. Through the lens of the Syrian refugee crisis, the event helps create a sense of shared humanity by inviting people to spend a short time identifying with those difficult choices Syrian refugees are forced to make in their struggle to protect their loved ones and survive.
Oxfam’s goal in developing Refugee Road is twofold: we want to both create a deeper sense of empathy and understanding of who refugees are, and set the record straight on the process by which refugees enter the US and their impact on this country. Every refugee entering this country undergoes a nearly two-year vetting process, and even then less than 1% of the worlds’ refugee population is ever resettled anywhere.
Once in this country, refugees, just like other immigrants, are revitalizing the communities in which they live. From rural areas of our country to cities, they contribute their experience and energy to our workforce, creating new jobs and economic opportunity. In fact, the average refugee population’s workforce participation rate is 81.8 percent, well above the national rate of 62 percent (source). MassTLC’s report, The Economic Impact of Immigration on the US, supports these findings. Just one of the many striking statistics in the report notes that 51% of America’s startup companies valued at $1B or more have immigrant founders.
TripAdvisor, MassTLC, and Oxfam’s shared interest and commitment to the refugee cause and the US role in helping to end the crisis ensured that the Refugee Road collaboration was especially powerful. The event brought together an engaged audience of over 250 people, many of whom shared their own personal stories.
As a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty, Oxfam helps people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters. Our mission is to tackle the root causes of poverty and create lasting solutions. In this unprecedented global displacement crisis, Oxfam is working with families who have been forced to flee their homes every step of the way. We provide humanitarian support to refugees around the world, while also calling on the US government and fellow Americans to open our hearts, minds, and borders to refugees.
Join Oxfam America on January 22, 2018 at District Hall in Boston’s Seaport district to “Unite for Refugees.” The event and panel discussion will address the current state of the refugee crisis one year since President Trump’s first Travel Ban. Learn more and register.