“INTO School Awareness” of refugee crisis

The President of UNICEF on campus, Natalie Matanda.
Image: Valentina EgorovaThe President of UNICEF on campus, Natalie Matanda. Image: Valentina Egorova

UNICEF on Campus has held workshops at Newcastle College in a bid to raise awareness about the ongoing refugee crisis.

The “INTO School Awareness” workshops were run by Natalie Matanda, president of UNICEF on Campus, and aimed to inspire young people to get involved in humanitarian activities.

First series of workshops were held on February 16, but will be lined up again on March 8.

Each session was well attended – overall, 55 students turned up to take part in “INTO School Awareness”.

The workshops are particularly aimed at students striving to become teachers, who need to understand how to accommodate refugee children at schools.

UNICEF on Campus hopes that by attending these sessions young people will be able to explore the global challenges faced by refugees and realise “the myths of a refugee’s journey”.

Matanda said: “What we are doing is just giving some background information about UNICEF in general and about the ongoing refugee crisis as many young people don’t really know what’s happening.”

She told The Courier that students at the workshops were unaware of what UNICEF was and its objectives.

The workshops included interactive sessions on designing and building houses for refugees and an explanatory talk on the global refugee crisis.

During the sessions, students were given various refugee stories and asked to think of designs that could accommodate these families.

Young people were also encouraged to contemplate what it would be like to flee their homes.

Matanda said: “Because of my background in the architecture I thought this workshop could help students to think if refugees moved from a hot to a cold climate would adapt to the normal British housing or they would need something that’s more comfortable.”

She added: “It’s really important that a house is the place where they feel the safest and that it has been designed in a way that makes them feel at home.”

The right design, as Matanda pointed out, will enable refugees to “forget about all the craziness” and “terror” “they’ve just fled from”.

She urges architects to think “out-of-box” to create a community for people who no longer feel safe at home and need a helping hand.

“In architecture, it’s important to make a space adaptable for a person, community or a family.”

“Some people require facilities – when they come here they need a home that is near these facilities.

“You can’t just put a person in Gosforth, whose child is terminally ill. Imagine the distance to NHS Royal Hospital.”

After the workshops, Matanda said: “I am happy that I came up with the idea. I am so glad that we conducted the first sessions – the students really enjoyed it and all their feedbacks were positive.

“It’s a great feeling when you see that your session has managed to inform and get the young people involved in raising awareness for young refugees. We cannot wait to get other students involved!”

UNICEF on Campus welcomes all students, who want to get involved in raising awareness of refugee crisis in schools.

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