The Turkish Heritage Organization is excited to announce the launch of Not Just a Number, an ongoing video project documenting the real lives of refugees living is the US. After researching and covering the escalation of the Syrian crisis and the numerous summits surrounding humanitarian issues this year, THO felt that examining the refugee crisis on an individual level may bring a needed and often overlooked perspective, adding to the depth and breadth of our analysis.
During her research, THO’s Coordinator Sarah Houston discovered how pervasive the anti-immigrant sentiment and misunderstanding seem to be in the media and throughout host communities. She wanted to challenge the perspective that many Americans have as they watch news clips and read headlines surrounding Syria, views that tend to place refugees in one of two categories: helpless victims without a place to go or intruders who threaten national security and local job markets. We wanted to highlight the triumphs and incredible stories of refugees here in the Washington, DC area who go above and beyond in order to confront this problematic stereotyping. The interviews already conducted show how refugees can take a devastating situation and turn it into a something beautiful, making a lasting impact on America.
For the initial phase of this project, we sat down with three refugees who defy categorization. Elvir Klempic tells us of his journey from Bosnia at a young age and how he became a dedicated civil servant at 24 years old. Ahmad Hashemi speaks of how he fled Iran to work as a journalist in both Turkey and the US. And Lubana Al Quntar, Syria’s First Opera Singer, invited us into her life as a champion for the refugee cause, performing and in benefit concerts all over the country.
When you take the time to sit down and talk with someone about their life, it is much harder to put them in a box. So, THO did just that: we sat down with refugees and listened. Each week, we will release a new interview in the hopes that Americans, Turks, and people all over will do the same. These people are so much more than just a number.
How can you help?
Give to TCA's $100,000 campaign to help Syrian children receive the support they so desperately need.
Check out our most recent article on the refugee integration
Messaging Matters: Turkish Municipal Leaders should focus on Messaging Targeted Towards Host Communities
Outside the Classroom for Too Long: Why the US Should Do More for Syrians Pursuing Higher Education
Interview with Nawzat Sadek, Balikesir University