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This might be the closest you’ll get to walking in a refugee’s shoes

Children earn a living by transporting goods inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan.
Mohamed Azakir/World Bank

It’s probably impossible to fully feel another person’s pain, but this powerful challenge Impossible Choices tries to get pretty close. 

Based on the idea that millions of refugees are forced to make impossible choices every day, the challenge aims to recreate life in a refugee’s shoes. 

When I heard this, I was sceptical but the experience is disarming.

To start with, you name a close friend and a family member. From there, you must make a series of difficult choices that make you question what you would do if your world crumbled.

Who would you call first if your country slipped into warfare? Would you run or stay? What would you do if you could only protect one other person? Each question has a time limit and like in real life, if you do not decide quickly enough, the decision will be made for you. 

RefugeeImmersive2.pngImage: Impossible Choices

It’s an uncomfortable experience – partly because it confronts you with choices nobody should have to make, and more deeply, because far too many people face these choices every day. 

Like Mahmoud, who lost his six-year-old daughter when he was forced to take a risky route along a live train track. Or Doaa, whose fiancé died when their boat capsized at sea. Despite the tragedy she had just experienced, she helped keep two babies afloat when their parents could not go on any longer.  

These are real people forced to make real choices and live with the often devastating consequences. No simulation can fully re-create their experiences, but this effort by the UN is certainly powerful. Created in the lead up to the World Humanitarian Summit on 23rd-24th May,  Impossible Choices is a reminder of the real human lives disrupted by war and exile. 

Take the challenge here: