“I am the voice of many refugee children”

05 March 2019

Last week, JRS/USA hosted Dr. Mireille Twayigira, a former refugee and medical doctor whose education allowed her to hope beyond her displacement and create a life in a new country. Mireille’s trip included events at Georgetown University, Saint Joseph’s University, and Fordham University, a trip to Capitol Hill to speak with lawmakers and their staff, and speaking engagements at local parishes in Baltimore and New York City.

Mireille shared her remarkable story of hope and resilience where ever she went. Mireille was forced to flee from her home as a small child. After losing her father, mother, and sister, she spent much of her early childhood with her grandfather, searching for a home, going from Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from the DRC to Angola, from Angola to Zambia, and from Zambia to Malawi. If you added the distance Mireille and her grandfather walked in the course of six years, it would be like walking from Los Angeles to New York City.

Mireille visits Capitol Hill to meet with US legislators and their staff.

When Mireille was nine, she and her grandfather, thanks to the support of a friend, made their way to Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi. The first thing Mireille’s grandfather did when they arrived at the camp was enroll Mireille in school, a school run by Jesuit Refugee Service. Mireille’s education was important to her. “Education was my only way out,” Mireille says, so she worked hard and excelled in her studies. Her hard work paid off when she received a scholarship to medical school in China.

Mireille told this story to audiences in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. She met with lawmakers and media and asked us all to do what we could to ensure more children like her are afforded the educational opportunities she received. As Mireille says, “Though I had some unique opportunities, my story is not unique. I am the voice of many refugee children.”

What can you do to help?

Check out our work in education around the world and learn more about students like Mireille and their barriers to education.

Send a Message to Your Elected Officials to support access to education for displaced girls.

Support the Global Education Initiative, our campaign for refugee education, and make a gift that will last a lifetime: the gift of education.

Mireille will be back to the United States in April to visit a few places in the Midwest. Visit www.jrsusa.org/fullofhope to learn more.

Click here to learn more about JRS’s work in education.