Amadru eating a hot meal with his family in a refugee settlement in Uganda. Photo by Theodore Sam, World Vision.
While scrolling through Netflix recently I came across a movie called ‘The Good Lie’. It follows the story of three Sudanese orphans and other survivors who are fleeing war and genocide in their own country. The survivors make the difficult journey to a refugee camp in Kenya, where they stay for 13 years before being given the chance to settle in the United States. Along the way, friends and family members are lost, to the war and to sickness and disease. To make it out alive the three siblings must stick together.
The message of this movie really struck me during the final credits as a quote, which I had seen once before, appeared.
‘If you want to go fast go alone,
If you want to go far go together’
– African Proverb
I first saw this quote when I started volunteering with VGen in 2015. It seemed to perfectly sum up why I wanted to join VGen at my University. I had been studying International Relations and Development Studies where I was learning about the Global Development Goals and global issues such as poverty and human rights violations. Learning about these issues built in me a desire to want to do something – to make a difference. As just one individual that seemed like a daunting task. So naturally, when I stumbled across the VGen stall during my second-year orientation week it felt like perfect timing.
VGen works to connect young people and empower, educate and inspire them to become change makers who advocate for issues they are passionate about. Through my work with VGen at University of NSW and on the NSW and National Teams I have met a diverse range of people, from my university, from my state and across Australia. I no longer feel alone in my desire to make a difference, because I know that there are young people right across Australia who share that same dream and VGen has given us the tools to go out and achieve it.
Seeing the quote again reminded me that each and every day we are all faced with challenges on our journey. Problems to solve and issues to face appear at every turn.
Currently, one major issue facing the entire world is displacement. Conflict, political unrest persecution, natural disasters, climate change, drought, poverty and lack of opportunity are forcing people to leave their homes, their cities and their countries. As an individual, displacement seems like an insurmountable challenge to face.
Every minute 24 people become displaced.
This means that over 65 million people globally are now without proper access to shelter, food, education and security.
And over half this number are children.
It is important to remember when facing such big issues that we aren’t doing it alone. To go far and to address displacement we must travel together.
Individual actions like raising awareness in our communities and participating in this year’s 40 Hour Famine Backpack Challenge, have the power to create great change when we stand together to face our challenges. VGen has taught me that the passion and determination of young people fighting for a cause can create change. That’s why this August I’ll be taking on the Backpack Challenge and joining thousands of young Australians in solidarity with displaced people across the globe. Together we are stronger and we will make a difference.