Across the world, 65.3 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Of these, 21.3 million are refugees, half of whom are under the age of 18. Existing to educate for a better world and unwavering in its commitment to the values of inclusiveness, respect and intercultural understanding, Ecolint is determined to play its part and, in 2016, joined the UNHCR #WithRefugees Coalition. Accordingly, its community of students, teachers, parents and alumni dedicates itself to lessening the plight of refugees.
Lending a Hand to Help Refugees
During this past academic year, the Ecolint community has been as busy as ever. In March, Campus des Nations Secondary School students and young asylum seekers hosted at a nearby centre enjoyed a football game together - a prime example that sport can serve as a universal bonding language that can cut across linguistic and cultural differences. Building on this, Ecolint was represented by its Director of Marketing and Stakeholder Relations Michael Kewley, at the High Level Forum on “The Transformative Power of Sport: Champions #WithRefugees” hosted by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and the FC Barcelona Foundation, which explored the role sports plays in integrating refugees. This meeting kicked off the global campaign #SignAndPass which invites people around the world to show their solidarity with refugees.
Some Ecolint students also choose to help on a regular basis, volunteering with the local Geneva Red Cross to provide homework help to migrant children and unaccompanied minors. Volunteering has been one of the most rewarding experiences, allowing students and young asylum seekers to build lasting bonds of friendship.
Keenly aware of the many shortages that both refugees and the organisations helping them face in host countries, a number of fundraising initiatives and collections were set up throughout the year. Across the three campuses, a collection of second-hand smartphones was organised to help refugee children stay in touch with their loved ones as they were moved to different asylum-seeker centres across France. At La Grande Boissière, a shoe and sports equipment collection was organised by the PTA for refugees supported by the Institute Team for the World Environmental Alliance in Greece. Year 6 students at La Grande Boissière were also inspired to help following former-refugee turned cartoonist Hani Abbas’ visit to their class. Printing their political cartoons on t-shirts, they put these up for sale to raise funds in support of the Atlantic Pacific International Rescue Boat Project, which provides rescue boats, mobile lifeboat stations and a highly trained volunteer crew in support of the thousands of migrants attempting to cross the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean.
Music for Humanity
The artistic community of Ecolint was also stirred into action. La Châtaigneraie teacher and professional musician John Aram brought together a team of renowned musicians to record a cover version of Quincy Jones’ “Tomorrow (A Better You, A Better Me)”, obtaining the personal endorsement of Jones himself. In so doing, he mobilised some 90 Ecolint students, aged 9 to 11 years old, across all three campuses to sing alongside British singer Jacob Collier and Swiss-American rapper Rootwords. On sale on various online music platforms, all proceeds will be donated to the UNHCR to help with their aid efforts.
Ecolint also prides itself on having an equally active alumni community just as dedicated to making the world a better place. In February, alumni-led band The Flocking Murmuration released its single “Brave”, in support of The Worldwide Tribe, an organisation that uses creative storytelling to highlight the human perspective of the refugee crisis while investing in grassroots projects that make a direct difference to the lives of those in need. This partnership was facilitated thanks to La Grande Boissière teachers Marcus James and James Smith.
With just under 34000 people forced to flee their homes every day due to conflict and persecution, the refugee crisis is far from abating. On World Refugee Day, Ecolint reiterates its steadfast support to the #WithRefugees Coalition and urges everyone to sign the campaign petition. Only by working together can we help ensure that every refugee child gets an education, that every refugee family has somewhere safe to live, and that every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.
By signing the #WithRefugees and #SignAndPass petitions, you will join a global movement asking world leaders to share responsibility and do more for families forced to flee.