WORLD REFUGEE DAY – June 17 2020

Every child should be able to dream big

By Ahmad Joudeh, International Friend of SOS Children’s Villages International

It is important that we mark World Refugee Day because people need to realise what others are going through and to stop treating people who are considered refugees badly. Wars, conflicts and other difficulties can destroy a child’s reality today. We can help them to save their future.

Labels prevent belonging

I wish we would not hear the word ‘refugee’ all the time. Labelling has a huge impact. I grew up being called ‘refugee’ all along. What is a ‘refugee’? How can a little kid understand the concept of ‘refugee’?

Children do not understand what is happening if they and their families have to flee and are on the move. And they cannot understand if they live in another country and are continued to be called ‘refugee’. Until when can a person be a ‘refugee’?

It is the complexity of belonging. People rely on labels to create a divide, to make others look inferior and exclude them systematically.

How can we be so cruel and let a child grow up feeling like you never belong? You will never feel home and you cannot feel safe.

A change cannot start with systems or governments’ actions, but has to start in the minds of people.

People should start to notice the way they look at each other and treat each other. For this, each person has to start with themselves.

Always follow your dream

I would advise children and young people who had to leave their country alone or with their families to consider the place where they feel loved as their home.

They should try not to focus on titles, documents and labels but on building their own future and follow their dream.

A dream is bigger than all the limitations around you. Following my dream has helped me to become a successful dancer but also liberated me from limitations of my environment and standing up for myself.

My dream has become my home. Systems and governments cannot stop you from dreaming.

Visiting New York last year to attend the Emmy Award ceremony, where the documentary film “Dance or Die” about my life received an International Emmy Award, confirmed to me that nothing is impossible.

It is our obligation to care for every child who has no one

Family is the main source for shaping our personality and who we are. If children are on the move alone or separated from their families, we need to act. We should provide a family-like environment for them. It is not just the right thing to do, it is what we should do.

As SOS Children’s Villages, we should care and protect every child who has no one. If we help these children and young people today, they can build their and our society’s future.

Ahmad Joudeh is a dancer and choreographer from Syria. He was brought up as a stateless refugee in Yarmouk Camp, a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus. Under the civil war, he experienced life-threatening situations.  In 2016, he moved to the Netherlands, where he has been pursuing his career as a dancer.  In November 2019, the documentary film “Dance or Die” by Roozbeh Kaboly, a Dutch journalist, about the life of Ahmad Joudeh won an International Emmy Award in the category of Arts Programming. For more information about Ahmad Joudeh visit his website.