15 TED Talks on refugee resilience


Feel like getting inspired today? Then look no further than these TED and TEDx Talks that highlight the resilience of refugees from all around the world. These are just a handful of voices representing the ingenuity of tens of millions of displaced persons and the daily struggles they face.

We’ve rounded up 15 of the most inspirational and beautiful Talks from refugees and the humanitarians working with them. Each Talk is short – so feel free to bookmark so you can come back and listen to each unique perspective.

1. Life and inspiration in the world’s largest refugee camp: Moulid Hujale

Born in Kismayo, Moulid was forced to flee Somalia with his family at the age of 10 to the Dadaab refugee camp across the border into Kenya. After witnessing the lack of opportunities for youth in Dadaab, Moulid started the Refugee Newsletter and engaged 30 young people, partnering with FilmAid International. He also partnered with UNHCR and other organizations working in Dadaab to collaborate on an umbrella initiative that provided skills training and jobs to Dadaab youth. Moulid recently moved to Mogadishu to work on making education accessible to all.

2. Let’s help refugees thrive, not just survive: Melissa Fleming

50 million people in the world today have been forcefully displaced from their home — a level not seen since WWII. Right now, more than 3 million Syrian refugees are seeking shelter in neighboring countries. In Lebanon, half of these refugees are children; only 20% are in school. Melissa Fleming of the UN’s refugee agency calls on all of us to make sure that refugee camps are healing places where people can develop the skills they’ll need to rebuild their hometowns.

3. No human is illegal: Yoonis Osman Nuur

Yoonis Osman Nuur came to the Netherlands 10 years ago after fleeing his home country Somalia, and is one of the many refugees in the Netherlands who cannot get Dutch nationality. While being categorized as an illegal immigrant rather than a refugee, Osman decided to let his voice be heard and demand acknowledgement of his existence in this country. What does it mean to be called ‘illegal’, and should any human being ever be called illegal?

4. A personal story of the Syrian conflict: Riad

Riad had to flee his hometown in Syria because of the conflict, and is now building his life anew as a refugee in Europe. In this moving talk, he takes his audience through a photographic journey of destruction in his home country, sharing his experience through an intimate and individual viewpoint which the media coverage of the Syrian conflict does not allow.

5. Promise and opportunity. From refugee to building up a life: Parweez Koehestanie

Parweez was born in Kabul in 1982, aware from the age of 5 years old that he wanted to become a doctor. At 16 years old he fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban and ended up in the Netherlands after a long journey full of horrors. Join Parweez as he takes you through the history of his life, his place of birth in the present day and his belief that education is the key for building a future peaceful world.

6. Being a refugee is not a choice: Carina Hoang

Refugees are often marginalized, their humanity ignored as their stories go untold. In this remarkable and emotional talk, however, author and former refugee Carina Hoang discusses her experience as a “boat person”. It’s a powerful account that is impossible to ignore.

7. A refugee’s dream: Saba Abraham

Saba was born in Eritrea, Africa and fled to Sudan then Egypt before arriving in Australia as a refugee in 1992. She has been many things in her life including a freedom fighter, penniless refugee, celebrated community leader and now a successful businesswoman. She is the founding member of the Queensland African Communities Council and the President of Eritrean Australian Women’s and Family Support Network.

8. Entrusting our future to our youth: Walid Issa

Walid Issa is a 25-year-old Palestinian from Bethlehem. Born in the Deheishe Refugee Camp, Walid attended a Christian school in Bethlehem where he was introduced to his American family, who have hosted him for six years. Issa has co-founded a non-profit dedicated to connect young professionals and finding more effective economic aid programs for the Middle East.

9. Caring for 90,000 refugees – The story of Somalia’s Hope Village: Deqo Mohamed

Dr. Deqo Mohamed grew up outside Mogadishu, Somalia in Hope Village – a refugee camp run by her mother Dr. Hawa Abdi. She delivered her first baby at age 15, and now oversees the community as it transitions from emergency response to sustainability. Listen to her powerful story of resilience and recovery.

10. Breaking the mold for refugees: Menes La Plume

What does it mean to be a refugee in Malawi? Well known as “Menes”, Trésor Mpauni Nzengu is a journalist, a writer, and a hip-hop and slam poetry artist, born in Lubumbashi in the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Menes came to Malawi in 2008, having left DRC due to political disturbance. Menes has begun to perform again in 2013 now adding English and Chichewa to his Congolese French rapping and Slam Poetry.

11. Finding my voice, seeing a future: Andrew Lam

Andrew Lam describes the struggles he faced and how they’ve led to new opportunities. Through the crises he encountered as a child refugee, Lam found the root of his emptiness, and now uses his words to help those who face the same problems he once conquered.

12. Refugees starting over: Kathryn Stam

Utica is the city that is welcoming to refugees, and over 25% of the city’s population are former refugees. Kathryn Stam shares her story about how refugees are shaping their communities, the challenges they face, and the lessons we can learn from them.

13. Integrative Thinking and Solutions for Refugees: James Milner

James Milner advocates an integrative approach to solving the plight of millions refugees who wait on average 18 years in refugee camps. James Milner has been a researcher, practitioner and policy advisor on issues relating to refugees, peacebuilding, African politics, and the United Nations system.

14. Refugees & Migrants are Added Resources: Thouiba Hashim Galad

Thouiba Hashim Galad attended the University of Juba where she graduated with a first degree in Economics and an MA in Gender Migration and Multicultural Studies. Because of her affiliation with Eastern Sudan, a well-known passageway for migrants, and one of the areas that receive the largest number of refugees, Thouiba became extremely interested in issues of minorities, refugees and forced migration. Here she advocates for their role within their host communities.

15. My escape from North Korea: Hyeonseo Lee

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was “the best on the planet.” It wasn’t until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder. She escaped the country at 14 to begin a life in hiding as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope — and a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind.

Did we miss one of your favorites? Share it with us in the comments.

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