To commemorate Refugee & Pride Month, Get 20% OFF any Language Session Purchase, using code WRD21 at Checkout, to amplify impact during this special month!

To commemorate Refugee & Pride Month, Get 20% OFF any Language Session Purchase, using code WRD21 at Checkout, to amplify impact during this special month!

Month: June 2022

Refugees are Superheroes. Learn languages with them

Refugees are Superheroes. Learn languages with them!

Reading Time: 6 minutes

100 million displaced – we marked World Refugee Month in June with this record-high number estimated by UNHCR. That’s more than the populations of Australia, France, and Costa Rica combined.

In fact, if being displaced was a nationality, it would make up the 14th most populous country in the world. This month, Al Jazeera declared the fastest-growing refugee crises of our time since World War II.

But numbers tend to drown the stories and one’s capacity to fully grasp what such a figure means. When or if we do, we tend to feel overwhelmed and somewhat paralyzed.

This month, we’re going beyond just numbers: we are focusing on positive stories around displacement, of loss and challenges, of hope and a#SecondChance – and NaTakallam’s role in the making.

Through these stories, we hope to suggest practical ways of making an impact, notably through your choice of language learning or language services.

At NaTakallam, we see refugees as superheroes, and we want the whole world to learn from them.

______________________________________

 

 

Meet Saeed, from Syria.


Current location
: Brazil
Favorite dish: Shawarma and Shakriyeh
Former profession: Manager of a tourism company
Teaching: Arabic with NaTakallam since 2015.

Hear his story: I’m originally from Damascus, Syria, where I managed a tourism company. Due to the conflict, I had to leave Syria in 2012, and I traveled through Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco, and finally, to Brazil.

In my seven years of teaching Arabic with NaTakallam, I’ve been able to make many friends from all over the world. I finally got my Brazilian citizenship last year and I was able to see my family again while attending a workshop with NaTakallam in Lebanon.

This year, I’m traveling to Turkey to meet one of my students in person, and get engaged to my fiancée whom I met through working with NaTakallam! I’m also going to Greece with a team from “Doctors without Borders” to help refugees in Lesbos.

NaTakallam gave me a chance to show the whole world that we can do so many things and that we are all human in the end.

 

Meet Leila, from Iran.

 

Current location: Germany
Former profession: Actress and a Social Media Community Engagement Specialist
Favorite dish: Ghormeh-Sabzi
Teaching: Persian with NaTakallam since 2020.

Hear her story: My husband and I were forced to flee Mashhad, Iran, in 2015 when he was arrested for DJing at mixed parties (both illegal in Iran), and faced a severe penalty. For three years, we lived in Greece, hopping from one refugee camp to another. My background is in computer science but during my time in Greece, I leveraged my love for performance to make some pocket money. I got the chance to work with visual artist Olga Stefatou on an art project that celebrates the individuality of female refugees and asylum seekers. But we sensed there was no real future ahead of us in Greece.

While we managed to get to Germany, we spent three more years living in six refugee camps in different cities, under-resourced shared apartments, and even a converted shipping container. It was extremely difficult and dehumanizing as we are not allowed to work or study, just waiting and hoping our status will change.

I began teaching Farsi through NaTakallam as a source of income. I’m really inspired by my students – their commitment to learning a new language motivates me to learn German, to be able to restart my life here soon. One of my students even traveled to Germany to visit me!

Today, my dream is to help other refugees as a social worker. Everyone deserves a second chance.

 

Meet Sayed, from Afghanistan.

 

Current location: Indonesia
Former profession: Interpreter and Translator
Favorite dish: Mantu and Qabuli-Palaw
Teaching: Persian with NaTakallam since 2019.

Hear his story: 34 years back, I was born in Afghanistan but I don’t want to say that I belong to a limited place or country. We all migrate to different places for various reasons and ways. I refugeed twice because of security issues. Once when I was child of 9, I fled to Iran, and later on to Indonesia, as a refugee in 2013.

I fled Afghanistan again because I studied French language and literature, worked with ISAF/ NATO and another French NGO for education, helping to build schools and create educational materials – which was criminalized under the Taliban.

I journeyed through India to Indonesia in 2013, only to be detained and behind bars for two years. Exactly like a prisoner, for the crime of being a refugee.

And there’s migrating too – the artistic way, this couldn’t have happened without NaTakallam. Working with this beautiful organization gives me the opportunity to migrate and virtually travel around the world, learn about new cultures, exchange ideas, and share the real experiences of refugees.

NaTakallam is a door of hope and dignity; a home where I can exhale the pains of being forced to leave family and dreams; currently in Indonesia, we are not allowed to work, access formal education, healthcare or travel within the country.

 

Meet Yaroslavna, from Ukraine.

 

Current location: Ukraine
Former profession: English Teacher
Favorite dish: Baked potatoes
Teaching: Ukrainian and Russian with NaTakallam since 2022

Hear her story: I lost all of the people I thought I had. I was born in independent sovereign Ukraine. I’ve always been Ukrainian even though I spoke Russian. Today’s Russia/Ukraine war really had its beginnings in 2014. My hometown Donetsk got seized, and some locals even welcomed and were eager to be part of Russia.

The war left me no choice but to escape to Kyiv. Now I remain here with some of my family members, trying to look forward to the future. The war left no safe place in my country. Every Ukrainian has been affected by it.

During these challenging times, NaTakallam has been a beacon of hope, with unconditional support since the day I met them. Working at NaTakallam has allowed me to provide for my family as well as reconnect with a part of myself I thought I had lost in the war. This is what helps me to move on with my life at the moment – the NaTakallam community, sympathetic students learning Ukrainian or Russian language.

I now look forward to seeing my country rise from its ashes again. With the help of the world, I know we can win.

 

Meet Ghaith, from Syria.

 

Current location: Italy
Former profession: Journalist
Favorite dish: Kibbeh
Teaching: Arabic with NaTakallam since 2015

Hear his story: I’m originally from Hama, Syria. In 2013, I fled the Syrian army while I was recovering from a shrapnel injury. I did what seemed like the best option at the time and fled to Lebanon. But the Lebanese authorities told me to leave Lebanon within one week.

Imagine yourself in a country that is not yours, a stranger, you own nothing, you cannot work and you have no right to do so just because you are a refugee, and, at the same time, you cannot return to your country because you are considered a “traitor”, just because you refused to participate in the killing of your own countrymen.

Then suddenly, someone comes along to help you work remotely, without any problems and without putting you at risk – someone who allows you to live in dignity without needing a grant from anyone.

This is what NaTakallam has done for me, and this is what every refugee needs, someone who believes in their ability and that they can make something instead of waiting for others. NaTakallam gave me an avenue through which I could earn a living – something that was almost impossible in my situation.

In 2016, my NaTakallam student-turned-friend connected me with an organization that helps resettle refugees in Italy. The organization allowed me to move and start a new life in Padua, Italy, where I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the University of Padua. And last summer, I started a full-time job as a news editor!

To me, NaTakallam is like a window to the world. You just need a connection.

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Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children… and superheroes! This World Refugee Month and beyond, we hope that you consider choosing NaTakallam for your language needs. With 100+ million displaced, creative, tangible and sustainable ways to support refugees are critical.

Contribute to more #successstories and #secondchances for refugees, displaced persons, and conflict-affected individuals with NaTakallam by:

1. Signing up for your favourite language here,
2. Choosing us for your translation or interpretation needs here,
3. Bringing stories of our Language Partners to your community or workplace by hosting a Refugee Voices session …and joining the likes of Twitter, Meta, Ebay, and more!
4. Following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin.
5. Creating impact through partnerships with us! Get in touch here.

10 Common Misconceptions About Refugees | NaTakallam

10 Common Misconceptions About Refugees

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In our modern era of clickbait headlines and 280-character debates, refugees often suffer from negative stereotyping and popular misconceptions like so many other marginalized communities.

NaTakallam’s tutors, teachers, interpreters, and translators come from diverse personal and professional backgrounds – each with unique skills and experiences that are often misconstrued by simplistic generalizations.

NaTakallam is committed to unpacking facts from fiction. We seek to reshape and reclaim narratives about refugee and displaced populations and promote understanding through fact-based discussions.

This World Refugee Month, NaTakallam hopes that employers and communities around the world will continue to work towards a better understanding of the rich contribution that individuals impacted by displacement can offer their communities and workplaces.



Myth 1: Most refugees restart their lives comfortably in new countries.

Fact: Less than 1% of refugees are resettled into new countries.

 

Resettlement is still a rare phenomenon, even though millions are eligible. In 2020, resettlement numbers hit a record low in the past two decades, according to a UNHCR report. Even though the US increased their refugee ceiling in 2021 to 62,500, a total of only 11,411 were resettled in the fiscal year – a mere 18% of the announced target. Even if successful, the resettlement process often takes years, and the journey of starting life anew in a foreign country can be extremely hard, especially in the face of new legal and educational systems, foreign languages, and cultural norms. 

NaTakallam works with skilled refugees who are often stuck in limbo, cut off from local labor markets, in camps or other transit circumstances. Therefore, each language session with NaTakallam makes important and meaningful contributions to their livelihoods and overall sense of belonging.

Sources: UN, UNHCR (Report), UNHCR (Data finder), Immigration Forum.




Myth 2: Most displaced persons flee to the US, Europe and Australia
.


Fact: 85% of displaced persons are hosted in developing countries.


Contrary to common belief and misleading headlines, only a small fraction of resettled refugees are hosted in developed countries of the West.
Though there are around 100 million forcibly displaced people in the world, the US 2021 immigration cap was 62,500, of which only 18% of the quota was realized. In 2020, the entire EU accepted less than 200,000 refugees. Most are forced into limbo states, with no legal residency or work status. 

The majority of displaced persons that NaTakallam works with have fled to neighboring developing countries. Top host countries include Turkey, Colombia, and Uganda, which as of mid-2021 host 3.7 million, 1.7 million, and 1.5 million refugees, respectively. 

Sources: UNHCR, Amnesty, Immigration Forum, UN News




Myth 3: Most refugees are adults.

 

Fact: Over 40% of refugees are under 18.


Not all refugees are adults. According to the UNHCR, an estimated 36.5 million of the world’s 100 million displaced people are under the age of 18. Furthermore, an estimated 12.5 million of the 27.1 million refugees are child refugees. Between 2018 and 2020, an average of between 290,000 and 340,000 children were born into a refugee life per year. Today, there are over 1 million children in the world who were born as refugees.

This demographic breakdown holds true for almost every regional crisis. Though children make up about a third of the global population, they constitute 50% of the world’s refugees. This dynamic is a significant concern, as contemporary child migration is often inhumane, unregulated, and dangerous. Moreover, an additional obstacle for refugee children seeking asylum is the fact that many of them go through this process without adult support. 

Source(s): UNHCR, UNICEF, Concern USA, UN News




Myth 4: Many refugees have smartphones so they must be well off.

 

Fact: Smartphones are a lifeline for refugees, not a luxury.


For refugees, smartphones provide access to essential and potentially life-saving information. Smartphones are used to find food, shelter, and assistance, navigate new areas, communicate with loved ones, and even earn a living through virtual work. Refugees often spend up to a third of their disposable income to afford connectivity and opportunities that come with a smartphone, according to Amnesty International.

In the era of what some have dubbed “the connected refugee,” NaTakallam provides opportunities for refugees to work as online language tutors, interpreters, and translators for users worldwide. 

Sources: UNHCR, Forbes, GSMA, Amnesty 



 

Myth 5: Most refugees live in camps.

 

Fact: Nearly 80% of refugees live in urban areas.

 
Contrary to the frequent images of sprawling refugee camps in the media, almost 80% of refugees live in urban areas. This has presented a new set of challenges: resources are often less concentrated and humanitarian assistance is less plentiful, meaning that individuals can miss vital information and aid more easily.

NaTakallam works with displaced persons in both urban areas and refugee camps to ensure no one is marginalized due to their current circumstances. We leverage technology in a way that ensures accessibility for all users. 

Sources: UN Refugees, UNHCR, The Brookings Institute 




Myth 6: Refugee influxes ruin economies and communities.


Fact: Studies show that refugees can have positive fiscal and social impacts.


The notion that admitting refugees will ruin a host country’s economy is rooted in false economic beliefs. Over time, it has been shown that refugees actually add more value to the economy than the initial cost of resettlement – if they are granted the right to work legally. Moreover, studies show that low-skilled foreign workers and low-skilled domestic workers tend to complement each other rather than compete. In the US, refugees add billions to the economy, and experts assert that they will play a vital role in helping economies recover after the pandemic.

What is more, contrary to political narratives, studies consistently show that refugees are less likely to commit crimes, engage in “antisocial” behavior, or be arrested. In fact, higher immigration is generally associated with much lower crime rates. 

Many of NaTakallam’s displaced tutors are barred from local employment due to legal restrictions – leaving them vulnerable to the black market and unsafe work. NaTakallam allows refugees to make an income legitimately and safely, regardless of their location.

Sources: Immigration Forum, University of Oxford, Business Insider, Economic Research Forum, Global Citizen

 


Myth 7: Refugee resettlement quotas increase each year.

 

Fact: Resettlement  numbers reached a record low in 2021.


Each year, resettlement quotas are subject to change. In 2020, the UNHCR resettled about 22,770 refugees, which represents only a third of the refugees resettled in 2019 and less than a fifth of those resettled in 2016. According to the UNHCR, this figure was the lowest in two decades. Undoubtedly, the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic contributed to a decrease in resettlements; however, these statistics still help to illustrate the precarity of many refugees’ situations. Equally troubling, the US froze resettlement and humanitarian assistance to refugees during the pandemic. 

By leveraging the digital economy, NaTakallam enables tutors and translators from displaced backgrounds to earn livelihoods through language services – particularly during the pandemic.

Sources: UNHCR, UN, OCHA, CIS Report




Myth 8: Refugees never return home to their native countries.

 

Fact: Most refugees would prefer to go home, and many do.


Popular narratives paint refugees as “economic migrants” who come to profit from the opportunities of more developed countries and never return to their home countries. This is a misconception. According to various surveys done across the world, most refugees are understandably reluctant to go home when the situation remains unsafe. However, from a sample survey of 1,100 displaced Syrians, an overwhelming majority, around 73%, say they would return home if the conditions were right.

Another report showed that in 2019 alone, 46,500 refugees voluntarily returned to the Central African Republic. What refugees seek is physical safety, dependable work, and sustainable housing, and the majority agree that if this were available in their home country, they would return. NaTakallam enables refugees to have reliable, consistent work as language tutors and translators in Arabic, Armenian, English, French, Kurdish, Persian, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian and more.

Sources: UN refugee statistics, Washington Post, Relief Web, The National, UNHCR report




Myth 9: Refugees don’t make for good employees.

 

Fact: Refugees can be a long-term economic advantage for companies.


Employers say it best: when it comes to refugees, “they come to work and get the job done.” Research from the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) in 2018 highlights that in addition to being hardworking, refugees often stay with their employers for longer and speak a foreign language – a highly desirable skill for any global company. 

Furthermore, in a Tent Partnership for Refugees report (also backed by the FPI), many businesses that hired refugees stated that they were among their most dedicated workers. Employee turnover rates were much lower among refugee employees than in the general population – thus, saving businesses money. 

Sources: UN, Fiscal Policy Institute, Business Insider, Tent Partnership for Refugees.




Myth 10: “There’s nothing I can do to help refugees.”

 

Fact: Each person can make a difference in supporting refugees.

 

Everyone can do something. Whether it is welcoming refugees into your own community, raising awareness about the cause, or supporting refugee-centered organizations, you have the power to make an impact beyond donations.

And if you are looking to support refugee livelihoods directly, amidst the fastest-growing displacement crisis of our time, consider bringing NaTakallam into your home, classroom, or office setting for your language-learning, cultural exchange, or translation needs. Change a life, one refugee at a time.

 

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