“Throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individual’s will to overcome adversity and to live a better life.” – The United Nations
Before we developed agrarian society, humans were nomadic. We travelled in search of food, resources and opportunity, and centuries later, we are motivated by the same primal desires: to better one’s life. And to better the lives of our children.
However there is a big difference from migration thousands of years ago, and migration today. We have advanced in technology and communication that allow people to travel furthermore quickly, navigating tricky geopolitical borders on their journey.
The Perilous Search For A Better Life:
In 2018 alone, the United Nations estimates that close to 3,400 migrants and refugees have lost their lives in search of a better life. On this journey, we have heard horror stories of sinking boats, exploitative ‘people smugglers’, physical abuse, and emotional trauma. So we must ask ourselves: What are the struggles that migrants face at home in order to see this perilous journey as their best hope? Whether a person is seeking economic opportunity, religious freedom, safety, steady food supplies, or anything else, we must take a step back to think about the circumstances that one must face to risk it all on an unknown new life.
Xenophobia on the Rise:
Unfortunately, the influx of migrants entering Europe (many escaping war in Syria and poverty in Africa) has ushered a wave of xenophobia, and closed border politics. Just this week, over 5,500 people gathered in Brussels in a violent protest against the signing of a UN Migration Pack in Marrakech last week. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is a non-binding agreement between UN member states aimed at increasing international cooperation. However, this agreement has faced backlash as people fear it will make it easier for migrants to enter Europe.
Migration with Dignity:
This year’s theme for International Migrant Day is Migration with Dignity. Considering the unwelcoming protests of current events and the rise of populism, it seems like a very fitting theme. Because migration should not be an undignified act. Leaving everything you know in search of a better life for you and your family is one of the bravest acts of the human will.
In fact, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has released several findings that support the fact that migration actually boosts innovation and economic growth in advanced economies.
So instead of economically and emotionally marginalising migrant communities, are there ways we can welcome them?
We are proud to work with Makers Unite and Younited Cultures, two incredible organisations that share a goal of supporting migrants and refugees with a vision for a more united global community.
Makers Unite is an Amsterdam-based collective that brings together locals and ‘newcomers’ with refugee backgrounds. Together, locals and newcomers get to know each other while making a unique collection of bags and accessories made from up-cycled life vests left by migrants on their way to Europe. The program promotes social inclusivity, while also developing and leveraging newcomer’s skills in order to help them find more permanent and fulfilling employment in the Netherlands.
Younited Cultures is founded by two fearless migrants from Romania who are on a mission to reverse negative stigmas, celebrate diversity and support migrant communities. By linking each scarf with a migrant success story, they use fashion as a creative tool to communicate and celebrate the positive impact of migrant communities abroad.