Free To Dream 2016
Organized by: Chiara Draghi
Refugees escape indescribably horrid and unstable situations, with many traumas along the way, only to find themselves in a new place, with unfamiliar faces and customs, and a new label thrust upon them, “refugee.” One trauma does not a person make. Free To Dream is a movement of like-minded friends that was started by Chantal, once a refugee herself, to remind refugee children that their lives can still be adventures filled with hope and love. Free to Dream is not an NGO, but rather a group of loving people who want to inspire the children of Mpaka to remember that life is not defined by the refugee camp boundaries.
When Chantal arrived in Swaziland, she met Marlene, a fellow refugee who grew up in Mpaka in Swaziland. Marlene showed Chantal around the camp, and Chantal was reminded of her father’s teachings: to always remember where you came from, be thankful for where you are, and give back to your community. With the support of her friends, Chantal was able to open up and tell her story for the first time, with shaky hands and tears. That year, in 2012, Free To Dream also screened a documentary about Rwanda after the genocide (Kumva neza: To better understand) and the money that was collected was given to Marlene and Gloria. With those funds, Marlene and Gloria bought food for a special holiday lunch for the families in Mpaka, thanks to the generosity of friends and family in Swaziland and beyond.
Since then, Free to Dream has grown with love and support from all corners of Swaziland. Last year, through the support of people like you, we were able to bring food and gifts to the children of Mpaka for the holidays. We brought artists and performers to the camp, people that the children had heard on the radio, but never thought that they would meet up close. We’ve been able to visit many times this year and have built strong relationships with the children through activities that encourage them to reflect and find their own life path. We’ve supported one person through the payment of transport fees to get to school. We have partnered with Kwakha Indvodza, (Building a Man), and organization that seeks to inspire and mentor a group of young men towards a more responsible, healthier, financially independent future.
Chantal says that the children appreciate that we are normal people like them and that through our work this year, “I believe the light of hopes and dreams has been revived by our visits.” We ask for your support today to help fund our annual holiday celebration, as well as to help us further our work next year. We hope to bring more influential people to the camp. We would also like to take the children out of Mpaka on some field trips to other places in Swaziland, like Mbabane. “Their parents travelled far to flee from wars and insecurities, let’s show them that their dreams can take them beyond where their current world ends.”