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The Other 1 Percent

Logo https://other1percent.pageflow.io/the-other-1-percent

INTRO

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The students portrayed here are just a few of the many women and men who shared their unique, deeply touching stories with documentary photographer Antoine Tardy.

The exhibition challenges perceptions about refugee students and provides a glimpse into the lives of these strong individuals, which are far more nuanced than the news reports, clichés and long- held prejudices about refugees would have us believe.

Most of the students portrayed in the exhibition have benefitted from a scholarship provided through the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI programme) which is primarily funded by Germany and implemented by UNHCR. Other students study through Connected Learning programmes that enable them to access quality, certified education despite distance or other challenges that make attending university difficult. Each of them embodies the determination to succeed despite unfavourable conditions and obstacles.

The possibility to go to university – either supported through a DAFI scholarship or Connected Learning programme, among others – motivates refugee children to stay in school and succeed academically.
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More than that, education makes us more resilient and independent individuals. Yet only 61 per cent of refugee children have access to primary education, compared to an international average of 92 per cent. At the secondary level, 23 per cent of refugee adolescents go to school, compared to 84 per cent globally. At the tertiary level, while 37 per cent of university-age youth are in education, the figure for refugees is one per cent.
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KENYA

JWL offers a much-needed higher education opportunity in a context characterized by challenges. Obstacles facing students include financial difficulties, cultural or traditional practices that do not favour girls’ education, congested schools, under-resourced facilities, a lack of trained teachers, and often gaps in recognition of earlier studies.

But within these constrained conditions, JWL is a beacon of hope, providing a high quality degree from Regis University.

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One morning in June 2015, armed men came to Mireille’s house in Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi.

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She was arrested together with her husband and cousin. They were accused of organizing demonstrations against the regime. In prison, Mireille was tortured and raped. Her husband disappeared. Her cousin was murdered.

Here she is showing a photo of her ankle which was broken by one of the policemen, using a metal bar. The other photo shows Claude, the man who helped her escape, carrying her together with two other men.

A mother of four, Mireille is “size 5” in camp language.


» Distance learning courses are a good alternative to traditional learning. I wish to raise my kids in a safe environment, where they receive a quality education. Here in the camp, it is difficult. My dream is to open an orphanage. I myself grew up in one. Children need to receive all the opportunities we can give them. «
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Clarisse grew up in the South Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

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A Human Rights professor, her father was regularly persecuted, dragging the family of seven into displacement. She finally reached Kenya alone and lives by herself.

“When we reached the border between DRC and Uganda, we were arrested by soldiers. They killed my father and raped my mother. I ran away and ended up here. I heard that the rest of my family went back to DRC…”


» What’s my future going to be like? I really don’t know. All I know is that I must keep studying and take all my chances. «
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In parallel to their studies, Innocent and his wife Aline run a liquid soap business.

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One part of their house is a little shop, another one is their production space. In front of their house, they have planted aloe vera. Before he fled his home country, Burundi, Innocent had been a student in pharmacy and chemistry. Later on, his background came in handy.


» When I arrived at the camp, I wanted to keep learning. I was afraid that if I found a job, it would take me away from my studies. Studies are what will truly help me in the long run, not money. The conflicts in my home country happened because people do not have enough education. «
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» Now I know I will achieve my dream of completing higher education, unlike most refugees, unfortunately. «
– Mvuyekure

» Initially, I was hopeless, like many people in the camps. I didn’t know what to do after finishing high school. But I got this chance and I want to give back to the community. «
– Chagodi.

» When we go through the education system here, we get to understand that we are human beings, that we are important. Many of us don’t actually know that. «
– Omar

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» I always dreamed of going to university but I never had enough money. The scholarship is a blessing. It   is taking me beyond what I had imagined. When I got the scholarship, I knew I was going to do my best. There are challenges but I don’t let them be obstacles. I look at them as lessons and as directions for what I want to achieve. «

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» By helping refugees through education, you are helping society. Higher education opens up your horizon and perspectives. It elevates you. Refugee youth are willing to learn, to excel. They can benefit so much from it. I see a bright future for myself. I always have. I am getting there, thanks to my hard work. «
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Mark was 25 when he fled Uganda and came to Dadaab. In this photograph, he is 54.

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Mark has four children who are all studying.
“I don’t want them to be like me. They must surpass me in learning. I want them to have more opportunities and greater liberty to make their own choices,” he says.


» I remained almost 30 years without learning anything new. I was in a state of mental hibernation. It was like I was asleep for eternity. But learning woke me up. «

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Geneviève is Rwandese but was born in a camp in Congo.

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After some time in Uganda, her family arrived in Nairobi when she was about 1 year old. Geneviève studies education and teaches in Kenyan schools during her holidays. She is also a football coach. In the future, she hopes to work with different organizations to support street kids and refugee kids.


» In order to survive as refugees, acquiring education is the only way. I am a living proof of that. «
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Foni’s family came to Nairobi in 1991, fleeing a war-torn Sudan. There, she gradually began to challenge the negative preconceptions about refugees.

Foni believes that interaction and education are crucial to promoting peace and appreciation of cultural diversity. Together with a Kenyan friend, she founded the community-based YEMI Initiative (YEMI in Swahili roughly translates to “You are me, and I am you”).

Her ultimate goal is to return to South Sudan to actively participate in peace building and development. “The way you react to conflict is crucial,” Foni says. “If you are able to see yourself in someone, you see they are a human being too. I am you, and you are me.”


» I want to change the image that exists about refugees being helpless, not really doing anything for themselves, relying on aid and so on. My sole purpose is to change that ideology. There is much more they have to offer. They have skills, there is a lot more that they can do. «
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RWANDA

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“Dr. Jonas” is how he is known across Kiziba camp.

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A DAFI student since 2012, Jonas was chosen among 800 applicants and has proven worthy of the high expectations placed on him; he recently graduated and started working as an intern physician.

He is the very first refugee graduate in medicine not only in Kiziba but in the whole of Rwanda.

"I come from a large, non-educated family. Seeing what education can do for families and communities is my biggest drive."
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» There are not many girls from the camp that complete secondary school. Many of my friends became pregnant and had to drop out to take care of their children. Setting goals for myself and being very focused on my education helped me get selected for the DAFI scholarship. I know that it is only thanks to a good education that I will be able to improve my living conditions. «
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» My father did not have a lot of resources to support me but he has always explained to me the importance of education. During my first two years of high school, I was studying at a school that is next to the camp. We had to walk 6 kilometres each day to get there. For my final year, I got a scholarship and could attend a better high school in Kigali. During high school, I was trained as an electrician, so I am now well prepared to study Civil Engineering. «
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Jean-Claude became blind when he was 11, and Necelatte when she was only 8.

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Both from Burundi, they have been close friends since they attended the same secondary school for children with visual impairments.
“I suffered a lot. I got excluded from society. It was very difficult to accept myself, to accept my disability,” says Jean-Claude. “I was strongly discriminated against and mistreated in my family,” adds Necelatte. Jean-Claude:“I want to tell all my fellows with disabilities to stay hopeful. First, we need to accept ourselves. Then we can plan our future and work to achieve our goals.”


» My future will be bright. I have already overcome the biggest obstacles in my life. I encourage all people living with disabilities of all kinds to accept themselves and to be proud of themselves. «
– Necelatte

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Ella left her home country Burundi in 2015.

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A graduate of the Kepler programme in Kigali, she works today as a Refugee College Guidance Counsellor there. Ella is responsible for managing Kepler’s scholar preparation programmes throughout Rwanda, developing the curriculum for teacher’s assistants and supporting refugee students before, during and after their studies. “Refugees face a lot of barriers”, she explains. “We assist them with tackling all the challenges”.

Ella is determined to increase the number of refugee youth who can access higher education, especially girls and young women. Conducting preparatory trainings for aspiring students, Ella observed an array of barriers to girls’ education.  


» Being open to the students and ready to learn from their struggles and unique experiences is a big factor in our work being impactful. When I see their success, I am so proud. «
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SENEGAL

Yvonne fled Rwanda with her mother and brother in 1994 during the genocide. She was only five.

The family then transited through various camps in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo until they finally reached Senegal in 1999, a place they have been calling home ever since.

Thanks to UNHCR’s support, Yvonne eventually graduated from college with a master’s in Quality, Hygiene, Security and Environment. She has since been holding a managerial position in a renowned construction company in Dakar.


» Our mother taught us that someone who is educated will always be better off than someone who is not. She was a widow, she had two children and no means. She had to fight in order for us to get food. In spite of all this, she has always preserved her dignity and independence. Today I work, I pay my rent, I finance the education of my child, I can give a little something to my parents, I am respected. «

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Fatimata’s family fled Mauritania in April 1989, when a longstanding border dispute between Mauritania and Senegal degenerated. She was 13.

UNHCR supported her throughout high school and university. “Without initiatives like DAFI and other similar programmes, we refugees would not get the chance to take part in the world’s affairs, to have a voice, to have an opinion. Education is how individuals can emancipate themselves, how they can open up their minds and their hearts, overcome the pain and the difficulties they may face. Women, in particular, should have increased access to education; they have a key role to play.”  


» All my brothers and sisters have a tertiary education. My dad always told us that as long as we did not have a bachelor‘s degree, he did not want to hear about marriage. To my sisters and I, he told us that only by having a job could we support our family. «

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LEBANON

» My children are still young but I will surely tell them about the importance of education, about the incredible difference it makes in somebody's life, and about all the hardship I had to face personally. I hope it will motivate them to study. I want to be an example for them. «
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Fatima was in 8th grade when the war broke out in Aleppo. Since then, she has faced countless obstacles in her journey towards excellence.

“I have been through very hard times but my relatives and friends have always stood by my side,” she says. When she got accepted at the prestigious American University of Beirut, her father told her: “You are about to achieve your dreams; you are about to turn the impossible into reality.”


» Yes, we are refugees and we have to face many problems. But we cannot give up. We have to be brave. Being refugees does not mean that we cannot have dreams and reach them. The future is waiting for us. «

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When the war started in Syria, Fidaa had to quit her Arabic Literature studies. She then remained out of the university for two years and took a full-time job at a dentist’s in order to support herself and her family. Only in her third year did she finally receive the DAFI scholarship, which let her stop working. She then earned a HOPES scholarship and was able to pursue her master’s.

“What seemed completely out of reach before became a reality. Master’s fees are very high so I never thought I could afford it. I am very grateful for the support I’ve been given.”


» Ever since I was little, I have always been an A-student; I have always believed and invested in education. Education is the cornerstone of life. Once somebody stops learning, they are stuck. Learning is what allows us to keep moving forward. «

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In parallel with his studies, Hassan has been working long hours in clothing shops since he came to Lebanon.

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“The first three years, I was working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he says. “It was extremely difficult; I was miserable. But I was determined to graduate.”

In his fourth year of study, he finally received the DAFI scholarship. “I was so relieved. I could finally quit my job and focus on my studies. I also took up many volunteering activities, providing psycho-social support to children, helping out street kids, etc.” Today, he keeps helping out his brother in his clothing shop.


» Ever since I graduated from high school, I‘ve always wanted to study psychology. To me, it is a very interesting academic field. It gives you opportunities and tools to learn about yourself and how to interact with others. I really enjoy working with children. Whatever you give them, they give it back to you. «
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Manar lived in a settlement for almost five years until she recently moved into an apartment with her husband and their three children.

Nevertheless, she still provides homework support on a voluntary basis to the kids of the settlement. “I really love children,” she says. “They are honest and frank. They come as they are.” Manar wants to become a school teacher.


» The refugee children here in the settlement really need support. Many of them do not attend school. Either there is no room for them, or it is too far, or something else. I want to do my best to help them. «

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After a challenging senior year of high school studying in English for the first time and an unenjoyable first year of Physics at university, Weam recently started her bachelor’s in Computer Science.

A video game enthusiast, she’d like to work in the field of programming or game design. “But it will not be easy,” she says. “First, I will need to have the financial means to do so, and secondly there are very few gaming companies in the region. That means I will probably have to go abroad to pursue my career goals.”


» I feel very happy to be given the chance to study at university, as it is the road towards independence. Since I have started my college studies, I have become stronger, both in terms of my personality as well as in the area of decision-making. «
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JORDAN

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Monther graduated with a Bachelor of Laws one week prior to these photos being taken. He was top of his class. He had fled Syria in 2012 with his family and remained out of the university for two years.

During that time, he volunteered for several organizations in the camp, supporting the local community. “It helped me get through that difficult period. It took me some time to adjust to the life here in the camp, with the heat, the power cuts, the limited services...,” he says.


» I cannot even describe how I felt the day I was accepted into the DAFI programme. I was getting my hopes and my dreams back. Education is everything in my life. «

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Ala’a was studying media and journalism at Damascus University until the war broke out in Syria. In Jordan, she spent two years with no access to formal education before receiving the DAFI scholarship. One year later, she got married and then had her first child. “Perhaps the scholarship was the key to good fortune!” she says.


» We refugees are achievers. This is the by-product of our difficult life. It gives us extra motivation. «

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Before/after view

On the left, Ala'a is a third-year undergraduate student in Education. She is 22 and has a 10-month old daughter. She is now 24 (right). She graduated nine months ago and is pregnant with her second child, while her daughter is almost three years old.

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When he left Syria in 2012, Mohammad had to interrupt his English translation studies in Damascus. He was in his third year.

Until 2016, he did not study at all. “It was a very hard situation,” he says. “The pressure was high. The DAFI scholarship came to the rescue, so to speak.”

To make ends meet, Mohammad works 16 hours a day, every other day, as a cashier in a gas station. Yet he still manages to have excellent grades. “I am looking for a different job with fewer hours. That way I will be able to study more and reduce the overall duration of my studies.”


» The job market is tough for Syrians here in Jordan. We do not necessarily get promoted despite our qualifications and skills... «

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Due to the war in Syria, Bushra’s family was separated. She lives in Jordan with her mother and two of her brothers, while the rest of the family is split up between Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

“When I came here, all I could think of was “when will I go back?”. Studying was not in my mind. Eventually, I enrolled in pharmacy studies.”

The first two years at university, Bushra did not have a scholarship, which was “very challenging, financially speaking.” At the time, she worked as a home teacher to support herself.


» Now that I have a DAFI scholarship, I can fully concentrate on my studies and on getting the best possible grades; they have gone up, by the way. «
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Mohammad is Zaatari Camp’s first-ever DAFI graduate. He has been living there since 2013 with his parents and eight siblings. Today, he is married and has two children.

“University students in the camp are role models for the younger ones. They look up to us. My journey, having received both the DAFI and HOPES scholarships and having graduated with a master’s degree, can inspire some of them, can give them hope.”


» I have always been very active since I arrived at the camp. I do not want to become a sad person. I constantly look ahead of me, towards the future. The more skills I acquire, the more confident I feel. My future is looking better now than it did some years ago. It is the responsibility of each one of us to determine what our life goals are and to do everything in our power to turn them into reality. «
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When he fled Syria in 2014 with his family and had to interrupt his engineering studies in his fourth year, all Khaled took with him was his passport and his school certificates. “They were definitely the most important things I had,” he says.

Once he got the chance to resume his studies, after working in construction for two years, he became engaged in as many volunteering activities as possible. “Volunteering gives you the chance to be close to people who are in need and to contribute to society. Even in Syria, I was already doing volunteer work. I worked with kids as a teacher.”


» I have always had this vision that people need to help one another, in a selfless way, even if they do not know each other. The vulnerable should receive extra care and attention. «

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In 2017, Odai was confident that he would graduate and become “a productive member of the community”. Yet he was already in doubt about the future: “Right now I am concentrating on my studies. It gives me a clear purpose. But then what? What will happen? Where will I go?”


» Everybody faces difficulties but we also all have a chance to improve our condition. To do so, education and hard work are the key. So never lose hope. You never know what tomorrow may bring. «
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Before/after view

Between these two photographs, taken two years apart, Odai obtained his BA from the University of Jordan and got married.

Today, Odai is actively looking for a job or a master's opportunity in his field of specialty, in Jordan or abroad. He works as a private tutor to make ends meet. Also a Syrian refugee, his wife Salam lives in Sweden with her family. Odai hopes to get the opportunity to reunite with them.

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PAKISTAN

Safia was born to an Afghan family in a refugee camp in Pakistan. From a young age, she was eager to engage in activities serving the community.

“One day on my way from school, I noticed a group of street children,” Safia recalls. She approached them to offer free schooling at her home. Her offer was graciously accepted and soon her classes started growing.

Later on, Safia began reaching out to women in rural areas with peace-building and extremism-awareness trainings. She strongly believes in women’s often- overlooked potential to positively effect change in society.


» When students from different backgrounds study together, they overcome stereotypes. They see that they have things in common. «
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Farzana’s family fled a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in the early 1990s. They settled in the city of Haripur, 65 km north of Islamabad, where Farzana was born. Ten siblings would follow.

‘Bibi’ – her nickname – received a DAFI scholarship in 2015, two years after starting her college education at Comsats University, in Abbottabad. She graduated as a Doctor of Pharmacy in July 2018.

“After graduation, I looked for a job and applied to several hospitals,” she explains. “In the end, I got a call to become a trainee in a private hospital in Islamabad.” Her ambition is to pursue a Master’s in Clinical Pharmacy.


» Not only did DAFI support me and my family financially, it also contributed to significantly raising my confidence level. «
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LEARN MORE

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Antoine Tardy is a documentary photographer based out of Geneva, Switzerland. He finds his purpose in documenting and telling human stories, on a constant search for purpose, sincerity, empathy and truth.

Tardy has travelled to some of the outer reaches and hidden cracks of our world: from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to the floating slums of Bangladesh’s capital, through to Rio’s favelas, Ethiopia’s rock-carved churches, Gaza’s beaches, East Africa’s refugee camps, Beijing’s Olympic venues, Georgia’s ski slopes and India’s railcars.

His work has been exhibited in Amman, Copenhagen, Dhaka (on a rickshaw!), Geneva, Islamabad, New York, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, among other places.

Through the photo series ‘The Other 1 Percent’, Tardy wishes to help fight the dehumanisation and stereotyping of refugees. He wants to show them as ordinary people forced to live extraordinary lives.

“Meeting these students and alumni, getting to know them and their families, I was struck by how much we have in common, and how determined, resilient and talented they are. In one of the camps I visited, it was written on the wall: ‘we are the people we’ve been waiting for’ – I think that says it all.”


www.antoinetardy.com 
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