Them is Us.
By Sara-Christine Dallain
“There is no us and them. When we take on this approach, we are ignoring our common humanity. Them is us.” I read this somewhere recently, I cannot remember the source, but it stayed with me. This quote speaks to the way we at i-ACT approach our work. We focus on how we can make the circumstance and lives of the refugees more personal and relatable. How we can put a face to the numbers and reveal the people under the blanket of statistics.
Guess what? Each one of us is a statistic. We make up the characteristics and changes of a population. We too are labeled and defined by our demographic information such as our ethnicity, socio-econonimc status, level of education and gender. But I bet you don’t feel like a statistic. I don’t. Rather we feel like unique individuals, with lived experiences, hopes, aspirations, talents, roles, relationships, and purpose. Well, so too does a Darfuri living in a refugee camp have lived experiences, hopes, aspirations, talents, roles, relationships and purpose. Being a refugee may make them a statistic and it may be a sliver of their story, but there is not a statistic nor a single story or label that could or should depict any individual or circumstance.
And so, this is why i-ACT. No matter how difficult these trips to Chad may be, however emotionally and physically demanding, I act because every person living in a refugee camp has a story. There is not one story that defines what it means to be a refugee. And a refugee is not defined by that one label. And so my hope is that by sharing their stories, insights, opinions, and experiences, we will all see beyond their statistic and label, and instead see Achta, Adam, Halyema, Rashida, Oumda, Ramadan, Habiba, Guisma, Bashir, Bashar, and Leila.
i-ACT most likely will never capture every story of every individual living in the camps we visit. But we do strive to amplify as many as we can, using what we hear and learn along the way to inform and shape our efforts. So please, join i-ACT in making our friends in the camps feel less forgotten, less like a statistic, and less like a refugee. Because, them is us.