Only 1% of the refugee youth have access to higher education, compared to 36% globally.
These photographs tell the stories of refugee students in Kenya, Jordan, Senegal and Rwanda who overcome the bleak figures, obstacles and labels and were able to achieve success on their own terms.
These are the stories of individuals who did not let their situations define who they are and want to become; and of the programmes that have supported their journeys.
These are stories of those who have had the chance to unlock their potential, who are translating their hardships into motivation. Ultimately, these are stories of resilience and hope, of solidarity and determination, of self-realisation in the face of adversity.
The men and women you will meet are refugees by necessity, but they became students by choice. They still battle each day with new challenges including: financial pressure, language and cultural barriers; competitive learning programmes undertaken in contexts with restricted access to electricity and connectivity. Sometimes realities of movement restrictions, police harassment, and tiresome legal and administrative procedures that their host community peers don’t have to navigate.
By seizing opportunity despite its cost, by refusing to let challenges become obstacles, their student cards rather than their refugee cards come to define them. The powerful programmes whether DAFI scholarships or Connected Learning opportunities, provide platforms for better protection and durable solutions.
Higher education nurtures refugee students as change-makers who can take the lead in identifying sustainable solutions for themselves and their communities. It gives them back a sense of self-worth, belonging and purpose.
It is what enables them to thrive, not just survive.
“All I want to do is tell the stories of those I meet, in the hope that we can see beyond them being refugees and relate to the people behind the numbers. These are not photographs of refugees. They are stories of humanity.”
Giles Duley, Humanitarian photographer and war survivor –