RISE (Refugee International Support Effort)

Home is Where the Hope is

Photo of Selma N

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional):


Date Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

When war struck in Afghanistan, my father was forced to leave everything behind. As the daughter of a refugee, I have always been driven to make a difference in the lives of refugees. I have been very involved with the refugees in my community by founding a refugee mentoring group at my local library and hosting donation fundraisers for refugees who have recently moved to the community. Seeing the positive impact in my community made me want to expand my efforts and reach refugees around the world. I have also been driven by my passion for music. Music has changed my life and helped establish my hopes and dreams. I would love for refugees to have that same opportunity to find their passions and feel hopeful even during their most difficult times.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

From Syria, to Myanmar, to Sudan, the refugee crisis has become one of the most prevalent issues of our time. Forced to flee genocide and war, refugees are faced with trauma, depression, and a lack of hope. Although there are many organizations tending to the basic needs of refugees, we forget that refugees lived normal lives prior to their displacement. It is my hope to revive the passions and dreams that they may have lost along the way.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We must fight depression and hopelessness amongst refugees, by instilling passion and hope. I believe that providing refugees with creative outlets and passion projects will allow them to escape their grief and the stresses of life in refugee camps. RISE plans to distribute items such as notebooks, pencils, colored pencils, markers, and diaries. And we will later expand by distributing instruments, paints, cameras, sports equipment, and other creative outlets. It is my hope that these items will revive their dreams and inspire refugees to pursue their goals. Research has shown, that investing your time in an activity that you enjoy has phycological and emotional benefits. RISE aspires to bring that internal happiness to the refugees.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

My hope is that the refugees will use creative outlets to either revive a current passion or find a passion that they never knew existed. Through activities such as art, music, sports, or writing, refugees will experience healing and hope, despite their displacement and tragedy. RISE will reach refugees both physically and emotionally by distributing creative outlets within the refugee camps.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

While other programs and organizations reach refugees by providing them with tangible, basic needs, RISE is looking to reach refugees through creativity, inspiration, and hope. Refugees had goals and aspirations prior to their displacement, yet other organizations don't take this into account. Think back—when you have felt your happiest. We all feel happiest when we are doing what we love, pursuing our passions. This is the goal behind RISE. I want refugees to experience the escape and happiness that come with passion. I want to remind refugees that they have not lost everything.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Although we have not yet launched out first campaign, RISE is beyond the idea-stage. I have been in touch with multiple organizations that are ready to work with me in distributing the creative outlet items. Moving forward, I know I will have made a difference when I have distributed the creative outlet items and know that they have found joy and hope in using them. At this time, I am prioritizing making a qualitative impact over a quantitative one.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Our goal in the coming months is to begin by distributing a minimum of 500 notebooks, drawing pads, colored pencils, and art supplies. I have been in touch with multiple organizations that are ready to work with RISE and companies that are willing to donate items. In the future, I hope to expand into other creative outlet items such as instruments, art supplies, and sports equipment. I also hope to expand in the number of refugees being impacted.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

I have already created a website and have recieved an overwhelming response from several organizations. However, I am still in need of assistance with funding and shipment logistics. As a teen founder, I would love assistance in navigating the business world. I would also love to partner with other young changemakers to raise funds for the project and bring awareness to the refugee crisis.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

I have discussed partnerships with multiple international organizations who have first hand access to refugee camps and could provide RISE with support in distributing the creative outlet items. I am inspired by the young changemakers and would love to collaborate with them in order to expand my project and truly bring hope and passion to the refugee community. As the next generation, we must come together to bring awareness to the refugee crisis and humanize those impacted by it.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ariyan Miller

Hey There Fellow Changemaker,

Congrats on moving to the next phase. I wishing you the best of luck ! & I am sending love and light to all the positive things that you do.

Photo of Bug and Bee Lucas

Your project so uniquely solves a problem people struggle with wrold wide. You are doing a great job and keep up the work!

Photo of Selma N

Thank you so much. I am truly inspired by your project as well!

Photo of Natalie Laky

It's so interesting how you're addressing the need for emotional and creative outlets for refugees. I think there's a lot of focus on quantitative support (in your own words) with housing and crowdfunding, but it's so important for people to be emotionally supported as well. I'm looking forward to seeing how you can build upon this idea; good luck!

Photo of Selma N

Thank you so much! Your project sounds awesome as well!

Photo of Brittany Corner

Great Idea to help some of societies most vulnerable

Photo of Selma N

Thank you so much!

Photo of Elizabeth Hooper

I love your idea! You're right in saying that having something that brings you joy is very important for everyone, especially someone recovering from a trauma. I saw that you mentioned partnering with refugee organizations to distribute your items, but I didn't see your plan for obtaining donations. Where are you at in that regard?

Photo of Selma N

Thanks for asking! I was planning on obtaining donations through a variety of ways: by contacting large corporations and asking for donations and extra inventory that is not being used, obtaining monetary donations through my website and campains (the monetary donations will then be spent on the items), and working with partner organizations in europe to procure the items locally through wholesale companies. I hope this answered your question!

Photo of Bijou B

Until I read your proposal Selma N I had no idea about how we could bridge the gap of the refugee crisis beyond conversation, and supplying necessities. But understanding your project as being a holistic support is something so amazing, please look at Living In The Hyphen  because I would love to eventually work and collaborate with you. I wish you all the luck in the world with your project. Best of wishes!!

Photo of Selma N

Linving in The Hyphen sounds incredible! I would love to potentially collaborate with you. Please feel free to contact me!
My email is: selma@supportrise.org

Photo of Bijou B

Thank you so much, we will be in touch soon. Looking forward to what the future holds!!

Photo of Leilani Serbousek

My own idea "the Nightlight Project" has a similar interest. A main goal of mine is to expand it to providing supplies(like what you hope to do) to refugees! Maybe we can team up in that specific aspect? I'm expecting to make money from selling nightlights which will in turn go towards my care packages. I want to have a refugee care package as well, if you're interested maybe you could help and we can use both our projects to help refugees?

Photo of Selma N

The Nightlight Project sounds amazing! I love the idea of carepackages and would love to discuss collaboration. With your supplies and my creative outlets, we could truly impact the lives of refugees! Please feel free to contact me.
My email is: selma@supportrise.org

Photo of Adam Nicholson

THIS IS AMAZING! Ezra Bram and I would love to talk more about what you are thinking. Check out Good Chance in the UK. They are doing something similar, we figured it could be some cool inspiration. https://www.goodchance.org.uk/

Also, check out our Catalyst project. We are hoping to provide a space for an organization like yours to come in and run creative programs just like this! We would love to collaborate with you.
- Adam & Ezra

Photo of Selma N

Thank you so much! I would love to speak with you in regards to collaboration. Your Catalyst project sounds amazing! My email is selma@supportrise.org
Please feel free to contact me!