Young people that fled to the Netherlands with or without family are not allowed to work after they turn 18 and have limited possibilities for education. In anticipation of their final status, a process that can take years, these young people are on hold. This leads to frustration, uncertainty and lethargy.
Diversity Joy is concerned with the fate of these young people and launched a program in 2011 called "Mandela University", inspired by Nelson Mandela. During his long captivity, he and his companions exchanged all the knowledge they had. Nelson Mandela did not become embittered during his long imprisonment. Instead, he worked to be the change he wanted to see in the world. In the Mandela University young people learn from each other's wisdom. Their mutual diversity is a source of learning. The young refugees work amongst other things on their lifeline. They’re able to look at their life from different perspectives. Their often harsh experiences can slowly transform in hard won life lessons. One of the participants said it like this: ‘I am 23 but I feel 40’. Sharing these lessons with Dutch peers on a highschool was empowering for them and others and connected often isolated lives within the refugee centre.
'I am 23 but feel 40'