By Abeer Pamuk, LeaderStories
On the 50th anniversary of the World Refugee Day, it is worth noting that there are an estimated 25.4 million refugees around the world, according to data from . These are people who have fled their homes or home countries seeking a safe place and a better future for their families.
On this day, we also celebrate those who work tirelessly to protect and help people rebuild their lives.
I grew up in Aleppo, Syria. While I am not a refugee, I can personally and deeply empathize with those who are. And I am thankful for all of the leaders around who are trying to make our communitions more inclusive, loving, and welcoming places. This feels like a time when we all need to bond together and build bridges. As millions of people around the world flee violence, injustice or abuse, we all need to step up and do more. When others take the initiative to act and find a solution, we should all stand behind them and support their work.
Here are just a few voices of social purpose leaders who are having an impact.
Victoria W. Otero: Victoria W. Otero, a human rights activist in Hong Kong, is working to ensure space for the voices that are too often silenced. Here, she shares her thoughts on what it means to be a refugee and what inspires her to work with refugees in Hong Kong: “I am always struck by how minority groups are talked about in the public eye and the media when there are few conversations with them."
Laura Emiko Soltis: A self-described "co-conspirator in social justice," Dr. Laura Emiko Soltis empowers undocumented students in the U.S. to breakdown the many barriers they face to higher education. She runs Freedom University, and advocates to change university admissions policies. She is based in Georgia, a state that bans undocumented students' access to public higher ed. (This short was filmed during the 2016 Ashoka American Express Emerging Innovators Bootcamp in New York City.)
David Fakunle: David is a mental Health Doctoral Student in John Hopkins School of Public Health. He believes in the power and passion of. He also believes in giving equal rights and opportunities for these people to contribute great things to a diverse world. Learn more about what inspires this young father every day in this video.