My name is Anika Tahsin, and I am a junior majoring in International Studies. For the Community Service Learning Program, I worked with Humanwire in order to build on the themes discussed in my Migration and Development class.
Humanwire is a crowdfunding website helping refugees across the world. Humanwire takes away the middleman from the equation, directly connecting donors to refugees and refugee families. Every dollar donated goes to refugees in need. If donors are inclined to support the work of the organization, they can donate to a different fund that goes towards Humanwire employees’ wages.
I am in charge of writing refugee profiles for Humanwire. On-the-ground volunteers and interpreters register refugees into the Humanwire system and help refugees fill out questionnaires. I consolidate the questionnaires and put together a profile, building a coherent narrative telling the story of the individual or the family. On a few occasions, I even had the opportunity to converse with refugee families directly via Skype. Having the opportunity to form my own questions and communicate face to face definitely helped me understand the conditions in refugee camps better.
Going in, I knew working for Humanwire would not be easy. I was proven right by the stories I encountered. Refugees are among some of the most vulnerable groups of people in the world. They live lives filled with danger and uncertainty. Almost every case I was given was wrapped in pain and loss. The work took an emotional toll on me, especially in the beginning. However, I knew that the work I was doing was important and I refused to let myself become discouraged.
As time went on, I found that the work became easier. It wasn’t that I became desensitized to the stories of hardship. On the contrary, I was assigned more difficult cases as time went on since I now had more experience with the work. What made the work easier was seeing the fruits of my labor. Refugee profiles that I had written were chosen by sponsors and campaigns were launched for the refugee families. I checked in on the campaigns daily and celebrated when the campaign goal was matched. This part of the experience was very rewarding, and it encouraged me to keep working through difficult cases in the future.
The topic of refugees covers a large section of my Migration and Development class. My experience with Humanwire allowed to see the theories and challenges discussed in class being played out in the real world. I found the gender aspect of refugee life especially interesting, as most of the cases I worked on for Humanwire involved women. Challenges that were specific to female refugees also helped me further understand the need for intersectional feminism in the world.