Each January, some of the planet’s most powerful corporate leaders gather in the small Swiss town of Davos to discuss how they can use their resources and influence to improve the state of the world. It’s the World Economic Forum, and this year, Crossroads was privileged to bring our Refugee Run to the event, giving participants a deep, though brief, experience of life as a refugee.

While we’ve been running simulations in Davos since 2009, this was the first year we were part of the official programme, giving us a new, unique opportunity to reach some of the world’s changemakers.

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We focused, in particular, on the escalating crisis in Syria and the plight of the refugees in the neighbouring countries. We brought aid workers from Jordan and Lebanon who spoke of the refugees they serve. Wonderfully, people of Syrian nationality attended too, including refugees.

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Those who took part in the experience ranged from the King and Queen of Belgium to leaders of multinational corporations, to Sheryl Sandberg (below), COO of Facebook, who spoke to the participants about ways to find peace in this troubled region.

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Many of the CEOs who attended were blinking back tears: people who are used to managing their international companies, but who found themselves feeling helpless and disempowered when confronted with the reality simulated. We had scores of comments that echoed one another’s themes.

‘I was skeptical but this simulation has been too powerful. Overwhelming. A call to action.’

‘A powerful way to seal our commitment to improving the world.’

‘Thank you for such an incredible and moving experience. I feel hugely compelled to take action.’ – Justin Keeble, Managing Director, Accenture Sustainability Services, Europe, Africa and Latin America.

‘While it can never compare to real trauma/resilience of refugees, Crossroads has a chilling simulation at WEF.’ via Twitter, Robert Kauffman, International Relations and Strategic Partnerships, Int Fed Red Cross and Red Crescent

‘I did the Refugee Run in a past year and found it to be amazing and life changing.’ – Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikimedia

Company directors responded in many ways. Some spoke of renewed commitment to keeping factories open in the Syrian region so people could remain employed. Several offered to fund schools for refugee children in camps. One spoke of using the company’s solar technology to support the need for power in camps.

Raphael, former DR Congo refugee and now aid worker, shared his experiences and insights with participants.

The goal is, in a broken world, to be a crossroads: a place where those in need can be linked with those who can help. In Davos, we often feel that we speak to some of the world’s most powerful individuals on behalf of some of the world’s least powerful.

To see the full set of images from Crossroads’ Refugee Run in Davos, click here.

Want to book the Refugee Run for your organisation?

We’d love to talk! Click here or email life-x@crossroads.org.hk, or visit Global X-Perience for Crossroads’ full range of simulations, catering to a variety of individuals or groups.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Urban poverty tends to repeat itself with unremitting consistency. It’s not just about a lack of money. It’s too often, also, about alcoholism, drugs, social breakdown, ill health, violence, homicide or suicide. Two decades ago, in Hyderabad, India, a young woman agonised over the poverty in the nearby slum community and asked herself what she could do. Education, she decided, was the most strategic way to break through the suffering.

She began a modest school which, with no resources, she held under a tree. The children loved it and attended in droves until, eventually, the tree was no longer enough. She then relocated to a building where she could accommodate more students. Conditions were less than ideal, but, such was the eagerness of the kids to learn that they continued increasing in number. They studied well and achieved, with some ultimately becoming lawyers, accountants and professionals in other fields. Nonetheless, facilities are insufficient. School assembly takes place in the street, with the roads blocked off either end, (picture) as they have no building sizeable enough.

With donor support, they have found another building which they have been able to purchase while Crossroads has task of furnishing it. We sent a wide range of provision, from computers to furniture, text books to clothing. A Western sponsor who made a follow up visit wrote to us, ‘I am just back from a visit to Hyderabad. I was amazed at all you have sent them. As I walked around the school, I saw the desks and chairs, kitchen equipment for the orphans, cupboards and the soft toys as well as many other items, including uniforms.’

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Crossroads, as an organisation, is not able to make large capital injections of a financial kind. What we can do, however, is make a capital injection of goods: one which, we trust, can multiply itself over in the lives of many who use it in years to come.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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