Community / In The Classroom / Social Justice

Global Refugee Crisis and the Effects of Displacement

Adler University student

Tiffany R. Gunn

Adler University students toured “Forced from Home,” an interactive exhibit presented by Doctors Without Borders, at the Daley Center in Chicago on Monday, September 24. Tiffany R. Gunn, a student in the M.A. in Counseling: Specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling program, shares her thoughts on the exhibit and the global refugee crisis.

The very earth that we love and play on, where we bring dreams and imagination to life, is the same earth that produces so much pain, cynicism, and constant conflict. It has left humanity cheated, hurt, and mentally exhausted. How can we as human beings ignore the 68.5 million forcibly displaced people around the world due to extreme poverty, war, violence, and natural disasters? How do we provide care to the caregivers who are dedicating their time and talents to help those who are in no position to help themselves?

Doctors Without Borders, who are independently funded, are exhausting all of their resources and volunteers to try and help put an end to this global devastation. Having the opportunity to work with refugees, immigrants and those seeking asylum with the United African Organization, I was happy to visit and tour “Forced from Home” with my class from Adler University. The interactive tour brings to life the experiences of a displaced person due to extreme poverty, violence, and war in order to live and survive. I felt transported to a space where I could hear the cries of children, feel the dust flutter onto my skin and see the millions of faces transfixed with pain and hopelessness. Doctors Without Borders works diligently to bring aid to those who are suffering and in desperate need of help from the rest of the world. With 68.5 million people displaced we must consider the ostracization of the children that are supposed to grow-up in these forcible conditions and what type of adult they will become.

Doctors Without Borders’ interactive tour resonated with me and my studies because of the connectivity of Alfred Adler’s theories and teachings. I have learned that all behavior is purposeful, just as I have learned that we as human beings have an innate need to be socially connected to each other.  Within that social connectivity we need to find a better solution to help those who have been displaced.

The main focus of Adler’s theories and teaches are focused on the human experience within the environment it has been placed in. We have to consider the social impacts of the forced conditions of those who have been displaced due to unwarranted behavior. The tour also allowed me to get a better understanding of the journey to salvation just to be met with cramped quarters, poor living conditions, disease and famine, and the mental health challenges that accompany displacement. Furthermore, it reminded me that we as a society would rather remain ignorant and removed rather than informed and actively securing housing, medicine, and much needed supplies to live for those who have been forced from their homes and communities. Our lives and the very growth of our surroundings are based on community access, systemic influences, and financial stability.

The global refugee crisis is not new, nor was it created by one entity. It’s an ongoing struggle and fight to have leaders of wealthy countries put aside their differences and look at the challenges facing people who are forced to flee their homes, uproot their families and witness the horrors of bombs and bullets that shred their loved ones and communities to pieces. These people are left with no resources, no food or water, no entry into a safe country, no opportunity to regain some dignity or respect, all because of some form of capital gain. allowed me to get a better understanding of the journey to salvation just to be met with cramped quarters, poor living conditions, disease and famine, and the mental health challenges that accompany displacement.

How do we as human beings say, NO VACANCY to those who are in need? Countries are deciding a year in advance on how many people will be allowed into their country, no matter the need, issue, or unforeseen circumstance. I really thought we as human beings would have made better efforts to ensure the safety of all, push for equality, access, and love of one another. Life shouldn’t be based on competition nor gain. It should be focused on community and population health, social inclusion, and access to education, financial stability, and empowerment.

I also had the opportunity to dedicate six months of my time to the United African Organization, a community-based organization that promotes social and economic justice, civic participation, and empowerment of African immigrants and refugees in Illinois. This organization allowed me to learn about the inner workings of immigration law, and witness the horrors of those who have been accepted into the United States just to be denied access to health care, mental health counseling, employment, and housing. Immigration is not what you see on television nor is it easy to become a citizen of the very country who allowed you to cross the border into safe quarters.

This interactive tour and my incredible experience at the United African Organization resonated with me in a way that my life will forever be changed. Just knowing that I can do more and be a voice of hope, affirmation and optimism, lets me know that I can be a part of something greater by continuing to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.