Self-Reliance as a New Response to the Changing Needs of Refugees

Boston, MA, April 3, 2018 RefugePoint was pleased to co-host the panel, Systems Thinking as a Response to the Global Refugee Crisis, with New England International DonorsDraper Richards Kaplan FoundationImago Dei FundFidelity Charitable, and The Boston Foundation on Thursday March 29, 2018.

The discussion was moderated by David Gergen (Senior Political Analyst, CNN), and speakers included Sasha Chanoff (Executive Director, RefugePoint), Dale Buscher (Senior Director for Programs, Women’s Refugee Commission), and Rajiv Joshi (Managing Director, The B Team), with keynote remarks from former refugee and author Sandra Uwiringiyimana (How Dare the Sun Rise, The Jimbere Fund).

Ina Breuer, the Executive Director of New England International Donors introduced Paul Grogan, the President and CEO of The Boston Foundation who welcomed the audience to The Boston Foundation’s downtown Boston space.

This group of stakeholders, from a wide variety of sectors: non-profits, philanthropy, academia, journalism, grassroots work, and the business field, examined how to mobilize collectively and promote opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant, contributing members of their host communities. Self-reliance is the social and economic ability of an individual, a household or a community to meet its essential needs in a sustainable manner.

Mr. Gergen began by introducing the concept of Systems Change and laying out the foundation for the conversation. Ms. Uwiringiyimana highlighted the necessity of self reliance in her own life by discussing her personal experience living as a refugee child and how her mother was able to support the family through a small business, when there was no humanitarian aid available.

Mr. Buscher and Mr. Chanoff discussed their respective organizations’ coalition building work through the Self-Reliance Initiative. This Initiative is a joint effort by a coalition of organizations, government agencies, foundations, research institutes and other partners focused on promoting opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant and achieve a better quality of life. The aim of this initiative is to reach five million refugees with self-reliance programming in five years, and ultimately help usher in a needed paradigm shift in refugee response.

As Mr. Chanoff explained “In terms of refugees, we are at a new global moral reckoning point with more than 66 million people displaced today, more now than at any other time in history. This is the global challenge we are here to address today.”

Lastly, Mr. Joshi discussed the role of the B Team and the private sector in terms of addressing the global refugee crisis. He highlighted how “we have to find a new way for humanity to steward our planet and its resources, and we have to do it quickly.” Mr. Joshi referenced the B Team’s new report: Refugees are an Opportunity for Humanity.

After these remarks the floor was opened to questions and comments.

These articles provide further information on the need for Systems Change around the world today:

RefugePoint finds lasting solutions for the world’s most at-risk refugees supports the humanitarian community to do the same. To learn more about this topic or RefugePoint’s work generally please contact: info at refugepoint dot org