Three children, unlimited potential
A new video game helps us understand how we can help unlock the potential of migrants and refugees. Meet the children featured in the game.
As we plan for a future after COVID-19 and begin to reimagine a fairer world for every child it’s important that we also rethink what children on the move have to offer communities through their passion, resilience and determination. To do this, we first need to better understand their journeys – where they have come from, who they are, and what they hope for the future.
The Unlock Their Potential mini video game is based on the real-life stories of three children and hopes to shine a light on these extraordinary young people, to challenge the common misconceptions about them, and to help you discover some of the challenges they face. Better understanding means a better world. Are you up for the challenge? Play the game, find out more about the Unlock Their Potential challenge, and learn more about UNICEF’s work with migrant and refugee children.
Eight-year-old Nora hums to herself, eyes darting around mischievously. “My favourite thing in the whole world is the colour pink,” she declares. “I love wearing and painting with it…I hope one day I’ll get to have my own room.”
Nora lives in Elaionas, a refugee settlement in Greece. Over a year ago, she and her mother and siblings fled poverty and conflict in Somalia to build a safer, more prosperous life.
But not everyone in the family risked the journey; Nora still has a brother and sister back in Somalia.
“My favourite part of the day here is when I go to school,” she adds, her resilience unmistakable.
Nora participates in a UNICEF-supported programme from our partner ELIX that provides education and recreational activities to migrant and refugee children in sites across the country. The activities offer a sense of normalcy to children like Nora, and help them build language skills that will prepare them for their new schools and communities.
“I’d like to study to become a doctor.” Nora imagines a bright future – one securely linked to her past, her home and her family. “My grandfather was a doctor back home and I want to grow up to be like him.”
Kung fu. Violin. Skateboarding. Sixteen-year-old Pouya has a diverse set of hobbies. But his focus on pastimes that require plenty of practice or quiet deliberation makes sense given that he has spent so much of his life navigating things beyond his control.
Pouya and his family arrived in Greece four and a half years ago, and now live in a settlement for refugees and migrants. But he still recalls vividly the family’s harrowing journey from their home in Afghanistan: more than a dozen people crammed into a vehicle, hiding in the trunk of a car for hours on end as they traversed Pakistan, Iran, Turkey. He remembers guns pointed at his family’s faces, and hiking a mountain lined with bodies.
Today, Pouya immerses himself in everyday hobbies and social activities. He enjoys going to school, hanging out with friends, watching football practices organized by UNICEF partner Organization Earth, and taking music lessons through El Sistema Greece.
“Under the sky, under space, under earth,” he says, “we are all one and we are all the same. And that’s why people should just help each other when they need it.”
Sama, 11, states proudly that she’s originally from Egypt. But she’s never been there: Her parents migrated to Greece before she was born. Still, Sama’s Egyptian roots entwine her life as a Greek – and as a storyteller. She loves to adapt popular fairy tales, to reimagine and reinvent traditional lore.
“I believe that I can change the world (with my stories),” she declares. “Because when people read them, they’ll be able to learn.”
She dreams of becoming an author – and a dentist, so she can properly care for her father’s teeth. She takes violin lessons on Tuesdays and practices with a choir on Thursdays. Sama refuses to stop learning.
“School is important because you can socialize there and make new friends,” she says.
Sama participates in free classes offered to Greek and migrant children by UNICEF partner El Sistema Greece. “School is [also] the best way to learn things about the world, to be educated and informed,” Sama adds.