What is Rights4Refugees and why/how did you start this organization?
Rights4Refugees is a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid to urban refugees impacted by natural and manmade disaster.
We aim to provide a unique opportunity for charitable donors to make a direct impact by purchasing a subscription-based service that provides monthly hygiene products to urban refugees for a low cost.
In 2014, I participated in a study abroad trip in Rome, Italy. For months, I prepped for the trip, I researched all these cool places that I should check out, made a list, checked it twice so I would be sure to do everything I set out to do! After all, I’m a girl from the Eastside of Detroit that woke up every day at 4:45am to catch 3 buses just to get to high school. So, in a sense, studying abroad was unreal to me….
Despite all the time and effort, I put into researching, once I got there I found something that I wasn’t prepared for, there was a large number of refugees living on the street, left to fend for themselves. It was as though, I went to this beautiful place, peaked behind a curtain and discovered the ugly truth that no one wanted to talk about.
At that moment, my study abroad trip became less about me and more about the change that needed to happen
My study abroad experience afforded me the opportunity to volunteer at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Camp in Rome. There, I taught English classes, prepared meals, and this experience really gave me the privilege of getting to know the refugees through service. Through listening to their stories, I learned there was a massive influx of refugees that migrated to Europe from places like Sudan, Syria, and Ethiopia due to war, crime, and religious persecution.
Additionally, I learned the scale of this problem is massive. Since the United Nations has been counting nearly 70 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide. In places like Jordan, about 95% of Syrian refugees live outside of camps, called urban refugees which make them more vulnerable to crime, persecution, and promotes limited access to biological and psychological needs.
Once I landed in the States, I felt empty, disconnected, and a real sense of void. I knew I had to create a way for Western audiences to engage the refugee community in a sensitive and empathic way.
How did you get involved in the GIC SOUP?
Over the last year, I have worked closely with my academic advisor Tamarie Willis on the Social Entrepreneurship Committee. She knew I was developing Rights4Refugees and she encouraged me to apply for the GIC SOUP Event.
How was your experience with GIC SOUP?
Being selected as a GIC SOUP participant has been one the most inspiring and rewarding experiences. Initially, I was intimidated to submit a proposal for Rights4Refugees, then I realized that it wasn’t about me, but more about spreading awareness about a worthy cause. The GIC provided me with a mentor named Chris to provide coaching during this process as well. The support and mentorship I received from Chris enabled me to enhance my pitch and highlight the core principles of Rights4Refugees. It truly made a difference in my presentation and enhanced my presentation skills overall.
Any future plans as a result?
Currently, we are developing a Pilot Program in Detroit to better understand the efficiently and impact of the hygiene boxes to the refugee community. Once we receive the results we plan to revise our strategy, measure, and scale globally.
For more updates, check out our Facebook Page