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Ad Council - #EmbraceRefugees

What would you do if your whole world was suddenly turned upside down?

Your school was transformed into a bomb shelter. People you grew up with and said hello to at the grocery store are gone, having left or been killed. You don't know what it will be like to leave, but you know you can't stay. You have to part with everything and everyone you know — from family to your home to beloved pets — and hope you'll be reunited one day.

You say goodbye to the life you knew and dreamed of and say hello to an entirely new world filled with both pain and possibility.


For many of us, this is a situation we can't even imagine, but it's a reality for refugees. The Ad Council designed a scenario to show people what it might be like to have their lives uprooted. Watch what happens.

We can try to imagine what it's like, but the truth is, this is a reality for nearly 20 million people around the world — refugees fleeing conflicts they didn’t start and are powerless to end.

For many people, this isn't hypothetical. Refugees are people in an impossible situation. Relocation for them isn't a choice; it's a matter of survival.

Kakuma refugee camp. Image by EC/ECHO Anna Chudolinska/Flickr.

Take twins Paw Lah Say and Paw Lah Htoo who, at 13, fled to a refugee camp in Thailand. 13 years later, they entered America.

Angie Smith, photographer and storyteller, shared their story with the World Economic Forum.

The twins, along with their father and brother, were forced to flee their home in Burma due to religious and ethnic persecution — the Burmese military set fire to all of the houses in their village. With their lives, and the lives of their friends and neighbors, literally going up in smoke, they sought safety in an enclosed refugee camp in Thailand.

Now, here's the thing about enclosed camps: You're not allowed outside of the camp; the camp is your world.

Mae La refugee camp in Thailand. Image via Mikhail Esteves/Wikimedia Commons.

As a result, they were completely dependent on the rationing of resources to survive. There was no opportunity to work or eke out some sort of a living. They were "safe," but they were in limbo.

After a friend from the camp was resettled in Boise, they requested the same opportunity.

After a lengthy and difficult resettlement process, they got their wish — Idaho would become their home.

View from the Boise Train Depot, taken by Charles Knowles/Flickr.

Now in their twenties, the twins live in the United States. They told Angie Smith, "everything is new." After spending half of their lives in an enclosed refugee camp, working hard just to survive, they're given the chance to really begin their lives.

Unfortunately, they had to leave their father and brother behind.

The twins' story isn't unique. There are so many people, just like them, fleeing war and persecution and clinging to hope.

Refugees want the things so many of us take for granted: the chance to work. To laugh. To walk down a street without fearing for their lives. To be with their families. To know that they have a future.

A little girl from Burma and her friend in a refugee camp on the border of Burma and Thailand via Mikhail Esteves/Flickr.

It can be easy to become numb to the refugee crisis when we think of refugees as sheer numbers, rather than people. Their stories are so important because they're so much more than the term "refugee." And they deserve the chance to live their lives, freely.

With nearly 20 million refugees in need of assistance, and so many families ripped apart, there's a lot more work to be done. Find out how you can help families who are in need of the hope and promise that comes with a fresh start.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

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This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

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This article originally appeared on 01.22.19


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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