“‘I wasn’t born a refugee.’ This statement doesn’t only reflect my experience but the experiences of many of my people and generation.”
Forced to flee her home in Syria as a young girl, Ravdanur Cuma came to find solace, hope, and strength through education upon arriving in Turkey as a refugee. Refusing to give up on her dreams during her time at the Öncüpınar Refugee Camp in Kilis, Turkey, Ravdanur quickly understood that schooling, not child marriage, would empower young girls such as herself to access greater opportunity and enable them to take their futures into their own hands. Seeing the prevalence of child marriage in the Syrian refugee community as a misguided way for parents to ensure that their children were taken care of, Ravdanur began to reach out to families and mobilize young girls in her community to speak out in favor of the advantages of education.
Since this time, Ravdanur has become a champion for refugee youth in the fight against child marriage, labor, and exploitation, founding the RavdaNur Association in 2017. Advocating for the rights of women and girls in Turkey, Syria, and beyond, she has spoken about her experiences with various media outlets and non-profit organizations, as well as at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Aside from working to amplify the voices of women, girls, and youth, Ravdanur received a scholarship to study International Relations and Political Science at Hasan Kalyoncu University in Gaziantep, Turkey. Through her own education she aspires to continue to develop her thoughts and ideas, and to implement them in her battle to secure and strengthen women’s rights, child protections, and refugee resilience across the globe.