Where are James and Anita? Brainstorming with the IRC about “Vision Not Victim”
Vision not Victim gives adolescent refugee girls the chance to visualize their futures and explore their aspirations through discussions, creative activities, and photo shoots that tangibly capture the girls’ visions for themselves. In collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Vision not Victim was piloted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it launched in Oakland in April 2017, during Oakland Unified School District’s spring break, bringing together 15 resettled refugee girls (ages 12-18) from 8 different countries (and 3-4 different languages).
PVF was the first funder for this Oakland program idea, and Executive Director James Higa and Program Associate Anita Kao attended a presentation about its impact. “It was incredible to witness the joy and solidarity that emerged when these girls were able to share common experiences and stories,” reported Karen Ferguson, Executive Director of IRC Northern California. During that week, the girls shared their stories about being refugees, resettling in the U.S., and feeling like outsiders sometimes. They gave each other advice and encouragement, and they received valuable input and insight from successful female mentors from various fields (architecture, medicine, education, entrepreneurship, business, radio broadcast, psychology, politics, etc.).
The culminating event of being photographed as doctors, lawyers, police officers, graphic designers, architects, rock stars—whatever the girls envisioned—was a treasured experience for everyone involved: the girls, their families, the IRC and Vision not Victim staff, and the organizations that hosted their photo shoots.
Based on this success, Karen announced plans to expand Vision not Victim in Oakland, which includes another run during Oakland Unified’s upcoming winter break. PVF is proud to be a first funder and excited to see how the program continues to expand with its new iterations.
photos of the resettled refugee girls from Vision Not Victim and the IRC