On June 23rd, Heshima Kenya co-hosted a unique panel at the SoHo House New York on “Creative Solutions to the Refugee Crisis.” With over 100 people in attendance, panelists discussed the pressing issues of the refugee crisis and challenges facing refugees around the world. Heshima Kenya’s executive director, Alisa Roadcup, joined in conversation with activist and model Mari Malek; Sara Green, Art for Refugees in Transition (A.R.T.); Meredith Hutchison, International Rescue Committee; which was moderated by Luna Atamian of the Huffington Post.
The audience learned about the misconceptions that affect the way people view refugees, as well as practical ways to advocate for this global crisis, which now affects 1 in 113 people. The panel discussed the power of storytelling, an effective strategy to humanize an overwhelming issue and make it easier for people to understand. All panelists encouraged the audience to take to social media, share stories and educate their friends. Mari’s biggest piece of advice was, “Use your platform, don’t let your platform use you.”
Everyone agreed that the common stereotype of refugees as a burden on society is still at the forefront of discussion on the crisis, which often results in government policies that neglect the needs and rights of refugees. Meredith commented on how to solicit change in this realm, “Public perception has to change, and then drive policy. We can’t wait.”
At the end of the panel, each speaker expressed their wishes for a more understanding, inclusive and active community advocating for refugees. Alisa Roadcup remarked, “We all hold tight to a vision of human flourishing.” From a certain standpoint, the refugee crisis can seem unmanageable. However, through collaboration and togetherness, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of refugees.
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