These Young Refugees Found A New Beginning In Scouting

8 Decent Jobs and Economic Growth
Decent Jobs and Economic Growth
10 Reduced Inequalities
Reduced Inequalities
5 Gender Equality
Gender Equality
16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Youth Programme
Better World Framework
Scouting and Humanitarian Action
Adults in Scouting
Youth Engagement
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by World Scouting from Worldwide
Publication date: 12th Dec 2017

We’ve heard of the touching stories of Omar and Saad, or Abas and his family, refugees from Syria. But did you know that both Saborn Va who is from Cambodia and more recently, Ayham who is from Syria, were also inspired to start over again through Scouting?

Saborn Va was was forced to leave Cambodia with his mother in 1980 due to the political unrest in the country. While it was not a pleasant experience, ‘The sunset of our lives became a sunrise,’ said Va of his family’s resettlement in the United States.

Saborn Va

Today, he is 37 years old and leads a group of 30 Scout refugees from all over the world, mainly from Myanmar and Thailand through the Great Salt Lake Council’s Utah Refugee Scout Programme.

For most of them, the education provided by Scouting has been life-changing. It has allowed them to make friends and move on, just like Va who said, ‘These refugees need Scouting more than ever before… They need Scouting, and we need them’.

Ayham, a 20-year-old Syrian, arrived in Belgium a year and half ago. He had to leave his war torn country as it was not safe to live there anymore. Before he left Syria, he was studying medicine in Damas and his home was located in Swede, one of the last safe city.


Today, he and his family are living in the city of Jette, Belgium. His parents will begin to practise dentistry again, while Ayham, who has spent six months after his arrival learning French and two months learning Dutch, is volunteering as a leader in the Cub Scout pack of Wemmel. He spent his first camp as Won-Tolla, the lone wolf who joins the pack and keeps on hunting even though he has only three legs, which he feels echoes his own story.

Scouting has given Ayham a sense of belonging, that he is part of the community, as the children looked up to him as their leader, and the other leaders treated him as their colleague. They have been very welcoming, introducing him to Belgian culture. Ayham hopes to resume his studies soon and continue to support Scouting in his new community.

Read the articles below, to find out more about how Scouting is supporting refugees worldwide:

Swedish Scouts welcome refugee children with open arms
Building a Culture of Tolerance through Scouting
From Refugees to Messengers of Peace Heroes!
Scouts are standing together #WithRefugees!

Photo credit: La libre; Nick Wagner, Desert News; RTBF

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