What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word “refugee”? Well, if you’re like many people, your answer probably includes mentions of detainment camps and crowded boats washing ashore on the coasts of Europe.
NaTakallam , an online start-up, is working to change these stereotypical impressions of refugees while empowering displaced persons to earn a living – a timely effort considering that there are now more than 65.3 million refugees in the world, according to a 2016 report from The UN Refugee Agency.
NaTakallam (“we talk” in Arabic) connects Syrian refugees with people around the world who are learning Arabic. The students pay for hour-long video chats with their tutors to improve their conversational skills.
Earning an income is an important milestone for the tutors who work with NaTakallam, especially since Syrian refugees in Lebanon are often not allowed to work. But NaTakallam’s founder, Aline Sara, says that when she surveyed the tutors last year, they cited making a connection with people around the world, and working to change the often negative narrative around refugees, as the most meaningful aspects of their work with her organization.
Sandra Hughes has the story of NaTakallam for Full Frame.