August 15, 2018

Global Youth Ambassadors S/Hero Week: meet our refugees and IDPs champion Nandini

Nandini Kochar set up Ray of Hope, which strives to educate and empower underprivileged and marginalised children

Photo credit: Nandini Kochar

Continuing our week of tributes to some of our outstanding young advocates, today we look at the issue of refugees and internally displaced people.

  • We have over 900 passionate young education advocates from across 90 countries, working tirelessly to ensure every child and young person has access to inclusive quality education and training to get the best start in life.
  • They are the Global Youth Ambassadors for Theirworld and our A World at School movement. Every day they are doing truly inspiring work, often at the forefront of Theirworld’s campaigns and key focus areas, from early childhood development to inclusive education - both globally and locally. 
  • Global Youth Ambassadors S/Hero Week is a celebration of their exceptional work both as a network and in recognition of key outstanding individuals as voted by their peers. Each day in our Their News channel we will be highlighting how integral our Global Youth Ambassadors have been in each campaign or focus area and announcing the 2018 Global Youth Ambassadors Campaign S/Heroes.

Today the Refugees and IDPs S/Hero award goes to a Global Youth Ambassador who has shown "outstanding work to help refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) have access to quality education".

Nandini Kochar from Botswana

Nandini set up Ray of Hope, a youth-run NGO which strives to educate and empower underprivileged and marginalised children - including refugees and displaced children - in Botswana and the United Kingdom.

As well as being a Global Youth Ambassador, she was named as one of the Queen's Young Leaders and is a member of the Global Changemakers network.

Her fellow Global Youth Ambassadors' tributes said she was " a ray of hope who will help IDPs in so many ways" and "committed and dedicated to this cause". 

Nandini said: "I am so grateful to my fellow GYA peers for believing in me and my cause. I am an ardent proponent of artivism and its potency as a universal tool of change-making and advocacy. 

"Through photojournalism, writing and the performing arts, I've tried to shed light on the crisis of refugeehood and migration in countries such as Lebanon, Greece and the UAE. 

"The real heroes, though, are our Ray of Hope UK team who are working tirelessly to better the lives of refugees and marginalised communities in Leeds, UK. This award inspires us to keep on going - bigger and broader."

Nandini teaching children at Old Naledi village in Botswana

Photo credit: Nandini Kochar

Theirworld believes that every child should have access to free quality education right from the early years - and this is especially important for children who are more marginalised such as refugees and internally displaced people. 

There are 65.3 million people worldwide who have been forced from their homes and about half of them are children. This causes huge numbers of children to miss out on being able to go to school.

Theirworld has been focusing in particular on Syrian refugees with our #YouPromised campaign, which aims to put pressure on world leaders to keep their pledge to fund education for one million Syrian refugee children in neighbouring countries.

Our Global Youth Ambassadors have been an integral part of this campaign right from the beginning. In February 2016 world leaders met at the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London and promised to provide the funding to get one million Syrian children in school during the 2016-17 academic year. 

Our Global Youth Ambassador Soulayma Mardam (Lebanon), along with TV star Laura Carmichael, delivered hand-printed messages from young Syrian refugees, calling for education for every girl and boy affected by the conflict to the conference. 

Refugee children in crisis situations, like these Syrian boys, are missing out on schooling

Photo credit: Theirworld

In the new school year from August many of our Global Youth Ambassadors supported the campaign by posting messages on Facebook pages of co-hosts United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, United States and Kuwait. Global Youth Ambassador Alexandra Kensland Letelier (Norway) also delivered more than 18,000 messages in Norway, which was a co-host of the Syria conference.

A year on, in April 2017, ahead of a major meeting on Syrian refugees in Brussels, our Global Youth Ambassadors one again came out in force to send messages to world leaders to keep their promise to over 500,000 Syrian refugee children who were still out of school

They rallied behind Theirworld’s launch of series of short films made by Syrian refugee children to tell the story of their lives in October 2017 and magician Dynamo’s powerful film telling the story of refugee children in Lebanon in April this year.

In between these major campaign moments, our Global Youth Ambassadors have been working relentlessly behind the scenes locally and globally to advocate for access to education for refugees and IDPs. 

Gulwali Passarlay (UK) spoke out about the representation of refugees on a Better Angels podcast with Theirworld President Sarah Brown, while numerous others continue to blog about this issue on Theirworld’s Voices channel. 

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