Education: it's a powerful tool
“Education is the most powerful tool which you can use to change the world” - Nelson Mandela
I believe have lived a sheltered life. I believe I have lived a life in which vital education has been missing from my life. It would be wrong to embark on this project claiming that I know everything about the refugee crisis and all of the discrimination and politics behind the violence that refugees face. It would be wrong to claim that I have always thought in the way I do. Living a sheltered life meant that I have spent the majority of my life as, what I will refer to as, a ‘neutral’ – I did nothing to help issues that truly matter, but I certainly was never against progression and liberation. I was uneducated on why it is so crucial to be active in these issues. This is why I believe that education is such a powerful tool, and Nelson Mandela's quote is such a great quote to live by.
Living a sheltered life goes hand in hand with the white privilege that is experienced by many on a daily basis. I think this is important to address as it is evident it is the reason many believe being neutral is an acceptable stance to take. However, this information considering the oppression of minority groups is something that I don’t believe that anybody is exempt from. With it being erased from the national curriculum, it is likely that many will get to the age of 18 and enter the real world, still completely sheltered from this information, and this lack of knowledge will continue for many years into their adulthood. This isn’t okay. At the moment, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on the issues that matter, through reading books, reading articles, and keeping up to date with current affairs. Youth for Refugees is an initiative to help provide support with learning about the refugee crisis, one of the many crises that are steeped in xenophobia and racism. However, this is an ever-changing crisis that is difficult to predict and, while I don’t know everything, I recognise the importance of education in the progress of the crisis and other crises and I aim to change the ignorance of many British people.
Many people may be confused as to why ‘neutral’ isn’t a progressive stance to take. My explanation of this is simple: if everybody was ‘neutral’, no progression would be made. This resonates as true in so many issues: racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and sexism, not just the refugee crisis. Activism is more accessible than it seems. It is great if it includes volunteering out in Calais, or Greece, or donating money or items that NGOs require to provide the best aid possible, but activism can also come in the form of signing petitions, sharing news stories with your friends or educating yourself on the issue. Particularly in young people, activism and volunteering are presented as so inaccessible, and there is nobody to tell you that it is more simple than it seems. We hope to use this organisation to, alongside promoting education, promote activism as something that is more accessible than it seems. We hope you use us as a tool to help crises that are in dire need.
At the time of writing this post, Finland has announced that it is resettling over 100 child refugees and over 30 adult refugees from Greece. This is fantastic progress, as it comes days after Portugal has announced its aim to resettle over 50 child refugees. We are so glad to see nations taking action, and hope to see more nations following these actions in the coming months. However, we don’t want any positive news to distract from the thousands of refugees still displaced in Northern France, Greece, and many other countries across the world. It is still important to educate yourself and others, get involved, and never forget about those who are struggling. I hope this post has inspired others who feel they have lived sheltered lives to get involved: change your beliefs, always fight for those who are a minority, and remember that your voice matters.