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For girls in Dadaab refugee camp, simply going to school can be life threatening. Here, schoolgirls take the dangerous walk along the highway to school.
Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising
PartnerGirls & Women

These Powerful Photos Show What It’s Like to Be a Girl in One of the World’s Largest Refugee Camps

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From Syria to Somalia to Myanmar, millions have fled violent conflict, natural disaster, and political chaos. And today, on World Refugee Day, the globe is in the midst of its worst refugee crisis since World War II. Approximately 70.8 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes, including over 17 million girls.

Nasro — a Somali refugee who has spent most of her life in one of the world’s largest refugee camps, Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya — is one of these girls. 

Brave_Girl_Rising_005.jpgAerial view of Dadaab refugee camp, home to hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

The teen is the focus of the short film Brave Girl Rising, created by nonprofit Girl Rising in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Citi, and HP, which shows the difficulties of life in a refugee camp for girls, as well as the value of investing in their potential. 

“This film is shining a light on the personal struggles and experiences of one refugee, which reflect that of many worldwide,” said Ed Skyler, Citi’s Executive Vice President of Global Public Affairs. “Citi is proud to support the work of Girl Rising to bring this awareness and action in support of girls and gender equality, while also continuing to collaborate with IRC and others to come up with solutions to this challenging issue.”

This film marks the expansion of Citi’s relationship with Girl Rising, which began in 2017 through its support of Girl Rising’s US Educator Program, and continues with the Brave Girl Rising film as its Founding Partner.

As refugees, young women and girls are uniquely vulnerable. In large refugee camps and tenuous shelters, they are at risk of experiencing physical and sexual violence and gender discrimination. Faced with adversity and often poverty, refugee girls may also be forced to discontinue their school or marry early.

In Kenya, there are only seven refugee girls enrolled in primary school for every 10 boys, and in secondary school that number falls to four. But education is crucial to empowering girls and young women to achieve their full potential.

Nasro has always seen education as her path to empowerment. And with the support of organizations like the IRC, which provide humanitarian assistance and education opportunities to refugees around the world, Nasro has been able to continue learning. She is supported by IRC’s women’s protection services in Dadaab.

Brave_Girl_Rising_019.jpgNasro and her best friend. In Brave Girl Rising, Nasro not only fights for her right to education, but empowers the girls around her to do the same.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Today, she is at the top of her class and is a fierce role model for other girls within the camp.

Brave Girl Rising is written and performed by refugees. The film’s powerful screenplay was written by acclaimed poet Warsan Shire, a Somali refugee herself, and demonstrates the uplifting impact of education on refugee communities, especially for girls. The  film highlights the hopeful human stories behind the heartbreaking statistics of the global refugee crisis.

These images from behind the scenes of Brave Girl Rising were taken by Martha Adams, the co-director of Brave Girl Rising, while she was on location. They show the struggles Nasro and other young girls living in refugee camps face, and their incredible resilience.

Learn more about Brave Girl Rising and how to help amplify the voices of refugee girls and women here.


Brave_Girl_Rising_006.jpgSchoolgirls walk along a neighborhood street in Dadaab. Living in one of the world’s largest refugee camps they face many barriers to accessing their education, but are determined to stay in school.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_003.jpgA poster on a local principal’s wall showing gender inequality in the classroom.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_010.jpgAn 11-year-old girl interviewed by the Girl Rising team. As the eldest of 6, she helps her family with domestic chores such as fetching water, and has never been given the chance to go to school.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_018.jpgEach school in Dadaab has a different color. Afternoons become a rainbow of colors as students leave their respective schools in bright hues of reds, pinks and purples.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_008.jpgA local school in Dadaab. A safe space where students can learn, play and dream of the future.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_001.jpgGirls at a local school in Dadaab, one of the world’s largest refugee camps. Many residents are born here and live their entire lives here, never having the opportunity to leave.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_014.jpgAt the maternity ward of the International Rescue Committee’s hospital in Dadaab where nurses shared the life expectancy for women in Dadaab was just 52-years-old.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_020.jpgIbrahim, an International Rescue Committee representative, who helps girls in Dadaab talk about their experiences and equips them with life-skills to overcome them.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_002.jpgIn Dadaab, clean water is scarce. Here, residents gather to collect this precious commodity.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_012.jpgThe Commiphora plant is found throughout Dadaab refugee camp and both plagues and protects its residents. It can be used as medicine to cure malaria, but brushing up against it can be deadly.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_007.jpgNasro, the star of Brave Girl Rising, enjoying a happy moment with her family and a member of Girl Rising’s film team at her home in Dadaab.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_017.jpgThree women at the local water station. The henna flower shown on their hands is the King Protea flower, a powerful symbol of courage and transformation from Brave Girl Rising.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising

Brave_Girl_Rising_016.jpgNasro laughs with the soundman from the Girl Rising film crew. The film was made in collaboration with Citi, the International Rescue Committee and local members of FilmAid.
Image: Photo by Martha Adams/Girl Rising


Learn more about Brave Girl Rising and how to help amplify the voices of refugee girls and women here.