Hamisi was forced to flee his home country of Congo at 18 to escape a brutal civil war. He then spent 7 years in a Tanzanian refugee camp, where he and his family waited for resettlement. While there, he noticed that without the structure that would characterize life in their home countries, refugee youth were particularly vulnerable to violence, substance abuse, and unwanted pregnancy, which caused many to abandon their education. In Tanzania, Hamisi became a certified Right to Play volunteer and worked to create a safe space for young refugees to learn and play.
When Hamisi was resettled to Manchester, New Hampshire, he noticed that the problems of refugee youth do not end when they are resettled. Manchester’s large and ever-growing refugee population faces countless obstacles during resettlement. Students are often placed in grades based on age rather than content mastery. Differences in cultural practices and increased financial demands on mean it is difficult for parents to provide the support they would otherwise offer. Therefore, many students are ill-equipped to succeed; they often must attempt to understand a completely new school system on their own in addition to mastering a new language and new material.
Hamisi’s previous experience working with refugee youth made him confident that these problems could be solved. To combat these obstacles, Hamisi created Safari Youth Club, operating in one of New Hampshire’s highest areas of refugee need at no cost to the refugee families. In order to unify children’s academic, community, and home lives, Hamisi’s organization has a simple mission: to educate and empower refugee & immigrant youth through sports and the arts.
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