In 2015, I was volunteering in a temporary shelter in Vienna which prepared and served meals for refugees. While we were handing out the meals, a family with 3 children was not joining the queue. The family had just arrived from Syria, and I learned from the mother, fighting tears in her eyes, that their factory was bombed and all that they had was a couple of backpacks. They simply could not imagine that, after having a stable and fulfilling life for so long, they would be standing in a queue for food in a foreign country.
Around the world, millions of innocent people continue to pay the price for ongoing and escalating conflicts. Not only are they forced to leave their home countries, but as refugees they are often mistreated and disrespected by their hosting communities, to say the least. While development aid organizations provide huge support to those displaced, such aid is not sufficient on the long-run unless it provides paths to self-reliance. As newcomers – hurt, traumatized, yet filled with hope and determination - refugees wish to integrate and be treated as equals within the society. They wish to rebuild their lives and the lives of their children. Many forget that they are people who were simply unlucky with the circumstances they faced. Such a life could have been ours.
We must provide refugees with the tools to live the dignified life they deserve. At the Andan Foundation, we believe that education and digital inclusion is key to integrate refugees and to allow them to re-develop their social status and retain self-esteem. Moreover, we must work on providing the space and the freedom of choice for people to select education paths that lead them to the career they want to pursue and the life they want to live.
The Andan Foundation is proud to have selected Hello World as the winner of its 2021 Andan-MIT Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion. We are proud to partner with a like-minded organization contributing to shift the international community’s approach to support refugees from a charitable perspective towards investment in the application of technology and digital inclusion to positively transform their lives.
The Andan-MIT Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion is open to solutions that advance the economic, financial, and political inclusion of refugees.
The Andan Foundation is a non-profit, public-benefit foundation based in Switzerland that aims to increase self-reliance of refugees by unleashing the human capital through education, entrepreneurship and employment.