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Finding a sense of dignity, hope and resilience in the world’s largest refugee camp

Interactive learning experiences to help young Rohingyas embrace their inherent dignity, resilience and sense of self worth and hope.

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Bangladesh is home to one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. As of June 2019, an estimated 913,316 Rohingyas have been sheltered in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 500,000 of whom are children (ISCG Situation Report, June 2019). The sudden arrival of such an astounding number of displaced people has resulted in enormous pressure on existing infrastructure, services and the environment of Cox’s Bazar, which has subsequently become the world’s largest refugee settlement. The Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar are highly vulnerable, with generations having experienced statelessness and no access to health or education even before fleeing Myanmar. The people sheltered in Bangladesh since August 2017 came with very few possessions, and are still almost entirely reliant on humanitarian assistance for food and other lifesaving needs. Most of the Rohingyas have experienced extreme violence including watching family members be killed and their homes and villages burnt. These traumatic experiences, compounded by the daily stress of displacement (hunger, disease, lack of work, lack of adequate spaces for physical activity and safe spaces), have resulted in widespread depression and other mental health issues, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness among the displaced population. Through a partnership between Friendship NGO, one of the largest non-profit development organizations working in Cox’s Bazar and Global Dignity’s affiliate in Bangladesh, we will create dignity-based learning experiences and workshops for Rohingya children and young people living in the camp. These workshops will focus on rebuilding a sense of dignity, optimism, and possibility. Storytelling, art, and creative expression (for all ages) and play (for children) will be central. The workshops will take place throughout Friendship’s 12 Learning Centers, serving 4,000-5,000 children and young people.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar is the world’s largest refugee camp, home to an estimated 913,316 Rohingyas, 500,000 of whom are children. Because the Rohingyas living in Cox’s Bazar are considered stateless, no one can predict how long they will have to remain in the camp. It could be a decade or more. It is critical that, despite these conditions, we create a model for helping to instill hope, dignity and joy throughout the camp, particularly in children and young people.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

The Rohingyas’ neighbors are the thousands of Bangladeshi aid workers working in what is essentially a new city. Friendship works under the belief, developed with Global Dignity, that it is not enough to provide physical necessities of life. They train their 450 in-camp staff to acknowledge the humanity of the Rohingyas in every interaction. Imbuing a strong sense of dignity throughout the camp is key to avoiding the disempowerment, frustration and anxiety that can lead to violence and cruelty.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Reclaiming a sense of dignity, self worth, joy and hope for the present and the future is a daunting challenge for the Rohingyas who have suffered such unbelievable persecution and have no way of knowing when they can create a life beyond the camp. Our goal is to design a series of workshops and learning experiences that, through storytelling, creative expression, building community, and trust building, help children and young adults to heal from the trauma of the violence and forced displacement from Myanmar, find their sense of hope despite their circumstances being inherently uncertain, and tap into their inherent self worth, resilience and joy in life. Aid agencies and UN refugee groups have great experience with providing basic needs in refugee camps. There has been less focus on finding ways to tend to the human spirit and empower people to find a sense hope.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

1: In the first 6-8 months, Global Dignity and Friendship will work with local Maajhis (representatives of groups of Rohingyas with whom Friendship has strong relationships) to design several workshop models for children and young people. These workshops will be rooted in storytelling, art, theater and play, drawn from Global Dignity’s existing workshop models used in 70 countries. 2: The workshops will be piloted in Friendship's Learning Centers, currently serving 4,000-5,000 young people. 3: The working group will design an evaluation process to assess/make adjustments to the most impactful workshops identified during the pilot. 4: In year 2, we will continue to use the most effective workshops and develop additional learning experiences based on lessons learned during the pilot phase. 5. Our working group will determine the final set of workshops. 6: We will capture the most powerful workshops to create a training kit for use by organizations in the camp and in other refugee camps.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Friendship’s team often witnesses well-intentioned humanitarian agencies deliver services to Rohingyas in a way that can humiliate and disempower them. A cornerstone of Friendship’s mission for the work they do as Global Dignity's affiliate in Bangladesh, has been a commitment to honor the dignity of every person they serve. Global Dignity’s work with young people in 70 countries has given us insights into the transformation possible through interactive experiences that support them to find their voice, sense of self worth, and hope. We believe that, together, Friendship and Global Dignity can create a new model for engaging young people who have experienced unimaginable trauma to reclaim a sense of possibility and their belief in humanity. These same challenges are experienced by displaced people around the world. One of our goals for this project is to elevate dignity-centered solutions and encourage them to be accepted as needs just as critical as water, food and shelter.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

-The enormous influx of Rohingyas forced to flee Myanmar (nearly 1 million people) has led to Cox’s Bazar becoming the world’s largest refugee camp. -They have arrived in the camp having faced extreme violence and trauma. -The sex trade, largely made up of children, is flourishing as a way to help their families earn enough money to buy clean water, firewood, food and other essential supplies (source: Mercy Corps). -Because they are considered stateless, the Rohingyas living in Cox’s Bazar are prevented from claiming refugee status (Source: UNICEF). They are therefore confined to this camp with no political solution in sight. This community could be living in this camp for the next 10-20 years, or more. -There is a lack of formal schools; employment; spaces for recreation and sport; adequate access to healthcare, hygiene, water, and sanitation; and safe spaces to gather, learn and play. -Bangladesh is experiencing extreme effects of climate change, resulting in frequent flooding.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

This project leverages the expertise of Friendship, which is increasingly playing a critical role in the Cox's Bazar camp, to help design an innovative approach to tap into children and young people’s sense of self worth and dignity despite the enormous challenges they are facing. Friendship works closely with “Maajhis,” local leaders who represent groups of approximately 150 fellow Rohingyas. Global Dignity and Friendship will partner with Maajhis to design, pilot and evaluate the workshop models for children and young people.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

In addition to Friendship, Global Dignity and the Maajhis, we will find 1-2 trauma education advisors who have deep experience working with children and young people. We have had initial conversations with the director of the SEE Learning initiative at Emory University about the leading experts who they feel would add the most value this initiative.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name

Global Dignity

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Global Dignity was founded on a simple idea: every single person deserves to live a life of dignity. We are a network of leaders in over 70 countries who are engaging nearly one million young people across the world each year in the meaning and transformative power of dignity—every single person’s inherent value. Empowering people to recognize their own inherent dignity and that of every other person is fundamental to cutting through division and achieving our vision of communities—and a world—where compassion, understanding and love triumph. Since Global Dignity's founding at the World Economic Forum in 2006, we have reached 2.4 million people. Our Country Chairs, Partner Organizations and Affiliates take our Teaching Dignity initiative into schools, universities, refugee camps, workplaces and communities around the world. Through workshops, assemblies, forums and storytelling, young people and people of any age are inspired to embrace values of tolerance, inclusion and empathy.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State

New York, NY


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Photo of NDEF Cameroon

Hi, welcome to the Challenge. We wish you success!

Photo of Alanna null

We wish you the very same! Thank you NDEF Cameroon :)