Changing the Narrative for Refugees Through Education
The growing number of refugees worldwide are part of a global crisis. As of 2021, 1% of the world’s population have been forcibly displaced. And according to the United Nations, the number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution, and human rights abuses has doubled in the past decade to reach 82.4 million at the end of 2020.
Faithforce, Salesforce’s interfaith employee resource group, has partnered with Salesforce Philanthropy and Salesforce.org for the past four years to educate, spread awareness, and support refugees around the world by observing World Refugee Day, where we come together each year to learn, share, and give back to help refugees locally and globally.
Throughout the year we also partner with various nonprofits — including, Migraflix, Connections Australia, Syrian Community Network, ICNA Relief, and Refugee Congress — that support local refugee populations and resettlement in our communities. We also work to uplift and empower the refugee population around the world through workforce development and mentorship programs like Buddyforce and partnerships with Upwardly Global, Mercy Corps, UNHCR, and others.
Our goal with these efforts is to recognize the many ways refugees help shape and benefit our communities and learn ways we can help support and welcome them. We hear stories of courage and strength that inspire us to action and ultimately help change the narrative around who refugees truly are: they are people from around the world, from different walks of life; different backgrounds, races, religions, and cultures. They’re people who are filled with courage, strength, and determination to create a better life for themselves and their families.
Faithforce, Salesforce’s interfaith employee resource group, has partnered with Salesforce Philanthropy and Salesforce.org for the past four years to educate, spread awareness, and support refugees around the world.
Empowering Through Education
This year, Faithforce has partnered with UNHCR and its Aiming Higher program to support higher education for refugee scholars through the Salesforce for Refugee Education campaign. This program funds the full cost of tuition, accommodation, and living expenses for talented young refugees to access university and technical skill training
“To change the narrative, you need to empower us with higher education. You need to help us exercise our potential and to regain our dignity. This is only by increasing scholarship opportunities, having an inclusive system where refugees are welcome, and having the right to enroll in education.” – Don, a refugee in the UNHCR Aiming Higher program
“Education is important to Salesforce. And refugee education is from the heart,” said Matt Evans, Salesforce’s Global Faithforce Philanthropy Chair. “Providing education to refugees shows compassion, inclusion, and understanding.”
During the World Refugee Day Kickoff event, Rob Acker, CEO of Salesforce.org, explained that the need of refugees is not limited to food, water, and shelter. “The issues are far more complex than that. It is about building a better future for refugees through education.”
Kelly Clements, UNHCR’s deputy high commissioner, joined Acker for a fireside chat and discussed the effects that the pandemic and global warming has had on the refugee population, noting that border closures and lockdowns hit refugees the hardest.
So how can we help? According to Clements, these are the top five focus areas to alleviate the refugee crisis:
- Resources – giving time and money to refugee support initiatives
- Advocacy – changing the narrative around refugees; fostering a more open and inclusive society
- Innovation – coming up with unique approaches to the problem
- Inclusion and involvement – welcoming refugees into the business as vendors or employees
- Support for education
The Salesforce for Refugee Education campaign addresses several of these focus areas and is part of the United Nations #15by30 target: a goal to achieve 15% enrollment of refugee learners in higher education by the year 2030. Currently, only 3% of refugees have access to higher education. Now through the end of November 2021, you can donate to help Salesforce meet our goal of raising $60,000 to fund 19 refugee student scholarships.
Changing the Narrative
Clements stressed the importance of changing how we think and speak about refugees. “What can we do to work together to find solutions and get others involved?” Clements asked. “We talk about hope, resilience, and what refugees can add to a community.”
Ahmed Megahed, director of Cloud Solutions Alliances at Salesforce and a board member for Ethaar USA, a nonprofit organization for successful refugee resettlement, highlighted the types of programs that support refugees on arrival. “We need to care for not just the refugees that are coming, but also the refugees that are already here,” he said.
Salesforce employees logged over 600 hours of volunteer time for WRD events and donated over $14K to UNHCR
Salesforce employees were inspired to take action. They logged over 600 hours of volunteer time for WRD events and donated over $14K to UNHCR.
“There is not a more impactful way to spend money on education than by educating refugees. Not only are you helping them get their life back, but you are also impacting the companies they work for, the universities they attend, and their future generations.” – Matt Evans, Salesforce’s Global Faithforce Philanthropy Chair
A Call to Action to Help Refugees
Kelly Clements of the UNHCR says it is important to change how we think and speak about refugees. This is an important first step in a positive direction.
It’s important to change how we think and speak about refugees. This is an important first step in a positive direction.
“What can we do to work together to find solutions and get others involved?” Clements said. “We talk about hope, resilience, and what refugees can add to a community.”
Salesforce’s Global Faithforce Philanthropy Chair Matt Evans said, “There is not a more impactful way to spend money on education than by educating refugees. Not only are you helping them get their life back, but you are also impacting the companies they work for, the universities they attend, and their future generations.” Help Salesforce change the narrative by supporting the Salesforce for Refugee Education campaign.
Learn more about how you can support refugees, and support the Salesforce for Refugee Education campaign.
About the Author
Senior Program Manager at Salesforce
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