TFP This Month: Human First, We Can Do Everything Better.
While riding to the airport after Paris Fashion Week, I noticed a corporate office building, a consulting company, with the slogan “Human First” in big bold letters. It was an arresting phrase. I remember thinking, this slogan will become the catch phrase for the human movement bubbling up around the world.
Weeks later, I am reminded of the phrase as I read story after story of refugees numbers increasing while refugees support is deteriorating. The stories are often dehumanizing and there is overwhelming suffering leaving me to feel debilitated and powerless to help. These media stories frame refugees as needy, a burden brought onto society, and a product of their government’s misdealing. Any responsibility of wealthy, unscathed, nations like mine, the United States or Europe are often glossed over, as the horrific conditions and equally graphic imagery of the refugees lives are the real meat of the story.
After reading dozens of articles, I feel afraid to get involved because I fear any danger it might bring upon me, and although I’m saddened and hurt for these individuals, if I am honest, it is easier to simply ignore what is happening and assume it will all go away.
But it won’t.
The truth is the numbers are increasing. According the UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) there are over 65 million people around the world who’ve been forced from their homes due to conflict or persecution. They are left in sentry patrolled locations, often keeping them corralled inside, in deteriorating refugee camps. Police turn a blind eye to criminal activity and more and more refugee children are being reported missing, as in Germany, feared lost to human and sex traffickers, or they are being separated from their parents, as in the United States, and sold as a commodity, advertised to wealthy people for “adoption”.
And most refugee women are left vulnerable to sexual predators, or they are being lured away from families and forced into prostitution – as in what we see in Paris. And while the #MeToo movement calls out sexual predators in a way that allows us to try and counterbalance the activity, these rights are almost non-existent for refugee women.
It leaves me with the inescapable thought that the refugee crisis is more than a single heart wrenching story of war and tragic circumstances, it is more than a hashtag, it is in fact an ongoing global epidemic and it is a growing business. It’s happening right now and will continue to happen into the future without a major interference. And unfortunately countries like the United States and Italy are recanting on their commitment to take people in who seek asylum or are displaced due to war or conflict between countries, so the future of refugees looks ever more bleak.
But there is hope.
This month, TFP will share stories about people who are calling attention to the Refugee crises with the intention to help, to activate positive change and to ensure refugees are accorded a life of dignity as we try to stave the growing global population. And I also want to let you know how you can help – it can be as simple as listening to someone’s story at a refugee center, to providing a donation to a reputable organization.
We will share refugee development stories, such as commercial businesses owned and operated by refugees where 100% of the profits go back into supporting their becoming economically independent. If you think about it, helping refugees by purchasing their products in the commercial market, like MADE51, is key to helping them reestablish their lives and regain their independence.
We will also share articles about sustainable tools and housing materials developed and installed by refugees and global citizens. These cool innovative tools help refugees now and can possibly help all of human kind and sustainable design in the future.
There are also great podcasts from organizations like UNHCR that provide a rounded view into refugee’s lives, and on the lack of media attention of how they are effectively developing. If we see how things can get better, we can try to lend a hand.
Finally we’d like to highlight other creative mediums, like the art and fashion world, dedicated to creating sustainable products that aid refugees socially and economically. Currently there is an art exhibition touring the world where proceeds go back towards helping refugee communities, and there are fashion designers earmarking jobs for refugees to help them reintegrate into society as contributing individuals.
This is a crisis, it’s horrible, it’s happening today and we cannot change that. But we can help make it better for tomorrow.
Human First, we can do everything better.