In 2008, there were 16 million refugees worldwide displaced by war, social injustice or environmental catastrophe. Over 60,000 of these refugees, most originating from Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, were settled in the U.S. The U.S. State Department matches refugees with one of 10 nonprofit agencies, for example the International Rescue Committee, which resettles them in targeted communities like Burlington.
The 2012 mission of my Wild Gift Project – Girls Outdoors (GO) – is to use outdoor adventure and exploration as a vehicle to support and empower these refugee girls, ages 14-21, to become social and environmental leaders. In the project’s first year, I will work with a group of 15 refugee girls, primarily of African origin, in creating a curriculum that incorporates outdoor skills, environmental education, leadership training, and interpersonal development. In the second year, the girls will then take ownership and leadership in GO to empower them to take action in bettering their community.