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Campaign Stories
  Accompanying urban refugees in Ethiopia
  Addressing the mental health needs of refugees
  Entrepreneurial refugee in Kenya teaches computer skills
  Europe: a hope that knows no borders
  France: JRS 'Welcome Project' offers more than space for refugees to live
  Working with Urban Refugees: A Handbook
  Johannesburg: Helping to Heal, Providing Hope
  Journeys of Hope postscript: Longing for Life
  Journeys of Hope: Breaking family ties
  Journeys of Hope: From life and death to asylum
  Journeys of Hope: If people are crying, no one hears
  Journeys of Hope: Listen to the story behind
  Journeys of Hope: My Last Chance
  Journeys of Hope: The people here are kind
  Journeys of Hope: The route through hell
  Kenya: building self-reliance among refugees and the host community
  Kenya: decades of refugee integration shaken
  Kenya: refugee parents cope with autism
  Kenya: xenophobia affects refugees in Nairobi
  New class provides path to self-sufficiency
  Panama: JRS program helps urban refugees
  Refugee from Iraq finds help from JRS in Romania
  Refugee Protection and Solutions in Urban Areas
  Serving urban refugees in South Africa
  South Africa: shining a light in xenophobia's darkness
  Southern Africa: the rise of urban refugees
  Spotlight on refugees from Iraq
  Thailand: helping survivors of sexual violence
  Thailand: Hmong refugees from Vietnam live with fear
  Thailand: marginalization in the metropolis
  The Refugee Voice: Hidden in Plain Sight
  Turkey: Deadly winter is coming for Afghan refugees
  Turkey: refugees from Iraq struggle
  Urban refugees in Turkey face daunting challenges
  Video: Advocacy in support of urban refugees
  Video: Global approach to urban refugee issues
  Video: JRS accompanies Urban Refugees
  Video: JRS and Urban Refugees
  Video: JRS focus on urban refugees
  Video: JRS services for Urban Refugees
  Welcoming and Accompanying Refugees in Amman, Jordan
Connect with us
The Jesuit Refugee Service Community Center in Addis Ababa "is a place where I find relief when I feel depressed," said Hanna Patrick, a Kenyan refugee. “To come here, play music, read magazines or newspapers and socialize with others who feel the same is the best I can do." (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)

by Neway Alemayehu, JRS Ethiopia Acting Programs Officer and Counsellor

(Addis Ababa) September 8, 2011 — Twenty-eight young refugees came together to discuss how to best adapt to a new country during a half-day panel discussion hosted by Jesuit Refugee Service on occasion of the UN International Youth Day at the Refugee Community Center here last month. 

"We chose this topic to help prepare young refugees from different countries adapt to the situation in Ethiopia and to look at what might hinder them to integrate," said Mulugeta W/Eyesus, Project Director of the JRS Refugee Community Center. 

The panel started with a short documentary film on peer influence among Indian youth and their vulnerability to liquor and marijuana addiction, instantly prompting a lively discussion based on the youngsters' daily experience. 

Overcoming challenges and facing the future with confidence

In the course of the afternoon, participants shared the skills that helped them overcome challenges and adapt to their new life in Ethiopia, after fleeing violence and persecution in countries such as Somalia, Eritrea or the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

"Discussing resources that can help face the reality in a new country, the majority of participants agreed that the JRS Refugee Community Center plays a very helpful role for them in getting used to their new environment and in protecting those who have problems adapting," said Mr. Mulugeta. 

"RCC is a place where I find relief when I feel depressed," said Hanna Patrick, a Kenyan refugee. "To come here, play music, read magazines or newspapers and socialize with others who feel the same is the best I can do," she added.

The facilitators — who are both working with JRS — made sure the discussion touched on topics such as change, perceptions, reactions, re-socialization, enculturation, appropriate behavior, Ethiopian and refugee culture and social skills, all of which help young people understand and cope with life in a new environment.

Richard Haavisto, JRS Pedro Arrupe Tutor at Oxford University, who is currently researching the situation of urban refugees in the Ethiopian capital, was one of the panelists. He guided the youth by asking key questions regarding the integration process and by challenging them to look at their situation from different perspectives.

For instance, while most participants thought learning the language was unnecessary, he stressed the importance of learning the local language, Amharic, in order to integrate well with the host community. 

"I am impressed by the complex ideas you raised and by how familiar you are with the key issues, I did not expect that," he told participants towards the end of the discussion. 

"It is part of JRS's mission in Ethiopia to help young refugees approach their new lives emotionally stable, optimistic and mentally healthy," says Mr Mulugeta. "We will continue to use different methods and means that enable them to grow, become self-reliant and face the future with confidence," he added.

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