Youth In Action: Uniting Refugees through COVID-19
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Youth In Action: Uniting Refugees through COVID-19

And building a globally-minded community in the process...

Youth In Action: Uniting Refugees through COVID-19
Ellen F.

Through working with PeaceJam Southeast at Florida State University, I've met many inspiring and empowering youth from around the world. This month, I had the opportunity to interview Amirhossein M, a 15-year old refugee from Afghanistan who has created a website designed to spread COVID-19 awareness among refugees in his camp. His persistence and advocacy for refugees and global wellness is a clear example that youth, no matter their circumstance, can truly accomplish anything they set their minds to.

The process of creating the Covid Media website began nearly six months ago, after Amir began observing the other refugee's rising concerns surrounding COVID-19 in his camp. With little to no internet, unstable Wifi connection, and few resources, the task at hand may have seemed insurmountable. To Amir, giving refugees accessibility to life-saving information was greater than any challenges he might face.

Using his coding background from the Social Hackers Academy, a coding school for refugees located in Greece, Amir began working alone to collect information and share his work on various social media groups. After completing the first published version on June 8, 2020, he began informing the refugees in his camp of the website with the help of HERo. HERo is an organization of refugee youths who helped Amir create posters that included his website address and information about Covid-19. After contacting UNHCR Greece and sharing his new Covid Media website on available Facebook groups, his project was discovered by PeaceJam Greece- specifically Regional Director Ellen Froustis and mentors involved in The HOME Project.

The HOME Project affords youth refugees with new home environments, where they are supported and given the tools to receive forms of higher education. Through The HOME Project, youth mentors wirth PeaceJam Greece have taught PeaceJam curriculum lessons every Saturday and Sunday for the past three years. PeaceJam lessons give students the foundations to advocate for human rights and practice peace in their own communities. The curriculum, originally taught to 3 students, is now being shared with 45 youth refugees and counting.

After learning of the conditions Amir was working in and the scarcity of resources, PeaceJam Greece offered to support Amir's Covid Media project. PeaceJam Greece was able to supply Amir with a new laptop, a new phone to take pictures, and his own domain name with greater capabilities to protect his work. This way, Amir's project could have the potential to reach refugees beyond the confines of his camp. Michail V, a PeaceJam mentor involved in The HOME Project, was instrumental in gathering a small team of coding students and translators to work with Amir on his aspirations for the website. Their collaboration was also recently featured as part of PeaceJam's #DontTouchMyPeace Global Campaign. Through the help of PeaceJam Greece and additional support, the Covid Media website has expanded to include four language translations with the goal to reach as many refugees as possible.

Michail's enthusiasm for the Covid Media website is a result of Amir's continued perseverance and dedication to helping others. Michail explains, "Amir is still a kid acting as an adult. He is inspiring to me because he started coding just to help people. He's so enthusiastic about his work and is on the job all the time. He never gave up even after facing all the difficulties he had."

Amir's resounding message to the youth looking to create change in the world is:

"Youth should be asking themselves how they can help and what their target is. They should work together against challenges and towards a vision. Youth can do anything they put their mind to."

His belief in the youth around him has been formed by the support he received from many in his life, especially his father who helped transport him to coding classes, despite the distance.

In the future, Amir hopes to do more work for refugees. As he becomes a professional, he is confident he will have more ideas on how to use computer science to advocate for the people around him. By raising refugee voices, Amir is working actively towards peace for all. A world peace, according to Amir, "...without discrimination, violence, and war."

"Peace means seeing people as equal, no matter who they are or where they come from."

Covid Media Info website link:

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