I must admit I’m a pop culture junkie. The evening of every awards show you can find me parked on my couch, munching on popcorn and rooting for my favorite actors and artists to take home the prize. This past March I was watching the Oscars and, along with the rest of the country, was surprised and inspired by Ke Huy Quan’s acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

“My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp, and somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage.”

Ke Huy Quan’s story is one of many amazing examples of resilience and success by refugees.  

USA for UNHCR reports that we are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record due to conflict, persecution and more. At the end of 2021 there were 27.1 million refugees who had to leave everything behind – their homes, their jobs, their friends and family members – to find safety. It can feel overwhelming to think of the sheer number of refugees around the world and paralyzing to know where to help. These feelings are completely valid, but I’m here today to: 

  1. Spread hope by sharing more stories where refugees have made wonderful achievements and became leaders in their newly settled communities.
  1. Share a tangible way to help through Global Impact’s Refugee Fund. The charities featured in this fund (Alight, HIAS, International Rescue Committee, Inc., Oxfam America, UNRWA USA and UMR) support refugees around the world with everything from basic necessities to long-term ambitions.

Read on for inspiring stories of refugees around the world achieving success.

Making History in a Refugee Camp

A small group of young people made history in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda. These 25 youth – from Congo, Burundi and Eritrea – came together to form the very first Rotary Club in a refugee camp. To mark the formation of any new club, Rotarians customarily complete a service project. The Nakivale Rotaractors, with support from our Charity Alliance member Alight, chose to reach out to some of the more vulnerable in their community – elderly refugees. See details on their service project here.

LGBTIQ+ Activist Builds a Business – and a New Life

Magdiel Galeano Gómez came out to his family at age 16 “just so that [he] could be at ease.” At the same time, he began to be involved in political activism; in his eyes, his identity and political activism are intrinsically linked. His political activism put him in significant danger and eventually led to him to flee Nicaragua. 

Now in Costa Rica, Magdiel Galeano Gómez feels safe. With assistance from our Charity Alliance partner HIAS, he has the freedom not only to pursue opportunities in business and politics and to express himself, but to give back to the community with his advocacy and environmental efforts. He feels that the future is limitless. 

Read the full story.

Meet Sofia, a Young Afghan Refugee Building Her New Life

When Sofia, 25, fled Afghanistan in August 2021, she had a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a dream of creating websites that bring people together. With support from our partner International Rescue Committee, Inc., she was able to restart her life in the United States, where she hopes to rebuild her career as a computer programmer.  

“I want to be a person who can help others. I really like working in networking and IT. I want to find ways to help those who don’t understand or don’t have access to technology. I also want to make a website like Google, Facebook and Instagram because these apps bring everyone together. Computer science helps introduce people to the world and show them what is happening. I am very determined to reach my goals. I want to establish myself in the United States and hopefully sponsor my mother to come here.”

Hear more about Sofia’s journey.

Gaza to Mars: UNRWA School Graduate Co-Builds NASA Rover

You may have heard about Loay Elbasyouni, one of the engineers behind the historic first helicopter flight on Mars. He’s also a Palestine refugee and a graduate of our partner UNRWA’s schools. 

Loay was 5 years old when he moved from Germany, where he was born, to the Gaza Strip. Like most children in Gaza, Loay was a product of an UNRWA education, one that he credits for putting him on the path to where he is today. He remembers many of his UNRWA teachers very fondly, speaking especially highly of his fifth-grade English teacher, who instilled in him a passion for English, and his math teacher, who he claims was “one of the greatest geniuses [he has] met — even better than any of [his] college professors.”  

Loay said his refugee roots instilled in him the value of persistence and forced him to never take ‘no’ for an answer. Read more about his story here.

How a Refugee Woman in Ethiopia Built Her Own Latrine

Photo Credit: Dagmawi Tadesse/Oxfam

Nyakhot Deng, her husband and their three children fled the war in South Sudan in 2014. Deng and her family receive food, clean water and other aid at a refugee camp called Tierkidi in western Ethiopia. But one crucial service was missing: they had no latrine, and taking care of their needs out in the open was presenting some serious problems. 

Deng was motivated to build the latrine to improve her family’s health. Our partner Oxfam America held a training session on latrine construction that helped her understand the process and gave her a pole to frame the doorway and provide vertical support. “My children are now free from diarrhea.” 

See the full story here.

From constructing latrines to co-building the NASA Rover and winning at the Oscars, refugees around the world are using their resiliency to accomplish wonderful feats and benefit their surrounding communities. You can help provide more refugees with the foundation for success by giving to our fund. One donation benefits Alight, HIAS, International Rescue Committee, Inc., Oxfam America, UMR and UNRWA USA.