A letter to a young refugee, from a young refugee

This World Refugee Day, Divine Irakoze pens a letter to her fellow refugee community.

I've been thinking about you constantly and wanted to reach out and share some of my thoughts and feelings with you. I know that life as a refugee can be incredibly challenging. I know the struggles that come with being a refugee. Being a refugee can be scary and overwhelming. The fear, uncertainty, and lack of opportunities can make life seem hopeless and make it difficult to see a path forward. Access to education and other resources can be limited, making it difficult to pursue your goals. As someone who was once in your shoes, I know what it means to face adversity and to feel like opportunities are out of reach. You may feel lost and uncertain about what the future holds. 

I want to remind you that your dreams are so valuable and achievable. I want to tell you that you are capable of achieving great things. Your potential is limitless, and your dreams are worthy of pursuit. I want to encourage you to never give up on them, no matter how challenging life may seem. With hard work and perseverance, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Even when the road ahead seems long and difficult, it's important to keep pushing forward. There are people who believe in you and are working hard to ensure that you have access to education, healthcare, and other essential services. You are not forgotten, and you are not invisible. 

I was once in your shoes. I was born and raised in a refugee camp, with limited opportunities for education and advancement. But I never gave up on my dream of attending college and making a difference in the lives of other refugees. My dream became a reality just a year ago when a kind-hearted woman from America sponsored me to go to University. It hasn’t been easy. I have faced so many challenges along the way, but I keep pushing hoping for a better tomorrow.  

Would you kindly do me a favour and remember that your circumstances do not define your potential? With determination and effort, you can overcome any obstacle and make your dreams a reality. I know the road ahead may seem long and difficult, but remember that every step you take brings you closer to your goals, and every effort you make will pay off in the end. Don't let the struggles of today discourage you from pursuing a brighter future. 

One way to stay motivated is to find inspiration in the stories of others who have overcome adversity. There are countless examples of refugees who have achieved great things despite the challenges they faced. Their stories serve as a reminder that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and never give up.

I also want you to know that your experiences and perspectives are valuable. You have lived through circumstances that many people cannot even imagine, and your resilience and strength are inspiring. Your voice deserves to be heard, and I encourage you to share your story with others. Remember that it is okay to feel overwhelmed, sad, or scared. These are all normal emotions to experience when going through major life struggles. I also want you to remember that you are brave, strong, and resilient, and you have a unique perspective and experience that can enrich the communities you become a part of. You are not defined by your past or your circumstances.

You have a unique set of skills, talents, and strengths that can be used to build a better future for yourself and your community. Your resilience and determination are qualities that will serve you well in the years to come. Remember that education is a powerful tool that can help you break free from the cycle of poverty and make a positive impact in your community. Pursue it with passion, and let it be the light that guides you to a better future.

I know that it can be hard to stay positive when you are facing so many challenges. Believe in yourself and your abilities. You may face discrimination or prejudice from others who do not understand your situation. Please do not let their ignorance and fear bring you down. You are worthy of respect and dignity, no matter what others may say or do. It is okay to feel sad or frustrated sometimes. You have experienced a lot of loss and change in a short amount of time. But please do not let those feelings consume you. Reach out to others for support, whether it be a friend, a teacher, or a counsellor. You are not alone, and there are people who want to help you and want you to succeed. 

As a fellow refugee, I want you to know that I think about you and pray for you every day. And I know there are many others who feel the same way. I want to see you succeed and make a difference in the world. 

I hope my story and those of others have inspired you to never give up on your dreams. Your journey may be different from mine, but the destination is the same: a brighter future for yourself and your community. You have already shown great strength and courage in the face of adversity. Your future is full of promise, and I believe in you. You have so much value to offer. Keep dreaming big, and never give up hope. You are loved, and you are not alone. I am rooting for you, and I can't wait to see what you will achieve. You are capable of achieving great things.