We want to start by expressing our sincere gratitude to everyone involved in the Clooney Foundation for Justice's inaugural 'Albie Awards.' We cannot thank you enough for the work you do and the light you have shone on the brave Darfuri refugee community in their fight for justice. We also want to thank the wonderful guests who attended the event to show their support for the awardees, using their voices to amplify their work and their stories. A special thank you to Dua Lipa and Nadia Murad for presenting the Justice for Survivors award to iACT.
What was most remarkable about the evening was the presence of our dear friend and refugee colleague Alfateh "Oumda" Younous Haroun. Words cannot express just how meaningful it was for all of us at iACT to spend time with Oumda and to see him be given the platform he deserves to share his story and speak on behalf of his community - an opportunity that is all too rare for refugees.
Also rare for refugees is the freedom of movement, which made Oumda's trip to the US even more monumental. Freedom of movement is one of the many restrictions and rights that refugees lack around the world. Thanks to the help of the Clooney Foundation for Justice and Ally Bolour of The Bolour/Carl Immigration Group, Oumda, who has lived in a refugee camp for nearly 19 years, was approved to enter the US. This was just the first hurdle. Traveling from Goz Amer to New York was a journey for Oumda. He had to traverse floods, take motorbikes, sit in truck beds, and finally take long flights across oceans. As a refugee, he was questioned and delayed every step of the way.
"Tears ran down my face as I sat watching Oumda up on stage at the CFJ gala. I thought about all that Oumda has gone through in his life - torture, genocide, loss of family, and loss of freedom as a refugee. I thought about Gabriel Stauring and Katie-Jay Scott and how they dedicated their lives to uplifting the voices of Darfuris and about the years they spent walking next to Oumda in refugee camp Goz Amer. And now, here he was in New York City sharing his story with a room full of powerful people and they weren't here to witness it. I cried tears of joy for what was accomplished to get Oumda on that stage. I also cried with deep sadness that Gabriel and Katie-Jay weren't there in my place to experience this moment." - Sara-Christine Dallain
The recognition of our work towards justice alongside Darfuri refugees brings hope. We have been working in support of the more than 390,000 Darfuri refugees living in remote refugee camps along the border of Chad and Sudan since 2006, and we hope this award brings much needed support to these communities.
"I hope the award that we are going to receive can bring support to the refugee communities in Chad and in other parts of the world." Alfateh "Oumda" Younous Haroun
iACT will continue to work next to refugee communities, listening to and uplifting the voices and leadership of refugees and their calls for justice. We will continue to support programs like Little Ripples and the Refugees United Soccer Academy that provides safe spaces for conflict-affected children to play, learn, and begin a path towards a more peaceful future. And we will continue to fight for more opportunities for our refugee team members to travel and speak on their own behalf.
Our New York Happy Hour
While in New York for the 'Albie Awards,' our team held an intimate happy hour gathering and panel discussion about iACT's refugee-led early childhood education program, Little Ripples. The panel included Oumda, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Director of Advocacy and Operations Giulia McPherson, and iACT Global Programs Manager Felicia Lee. Together they highlighted the importance of early childhood education for refugee children and the impact of iACT's Little Ripples program. As a leader of Little Ripples in Chad, Oumda shared his firsthand experience, as well as how meaningful it is for the refugee community to lead the program - a rare opportunity within the humanitarian space.