Youth unemployment is one of the greatest challenges throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). According to a report by the World Economic Forum, MENA has the highest regional youth unemployment rate in the world. Over 27 percent of the population under the age of 25 are unemployed in the Middle East and more than 29 percent in North Africa. That is more than double the global average.
Blue Rose Compass, or BRC, is a non-profit organization that aims to give gifted young refugees the opportunity to develop their talents and become agents of change in the world. The NGO identifies incredibly talented young refugees and moves them forward to get a top university education.
The identification process starts with BRC representatives traveling to U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) camps. From there, they work with teachers and administrators to select qualified student candidates to go undergo a series of evaluations. These include local and national standardized testing or its equivalent, psychological, emotional and physical testing conducted by certified partners, and intensive interaction between BRC representatives and the families of student candidates.
The process behind it is simple, yet impactful to so many under-recognized young men and women. BRC visits countries that host refugees and identifies those that are considered gifted. From there, these young refugees are connected to educational opportunities in world-leading colleges and universities, such as Princeton University and University College of London (UCL) to name a few.
The various university programs offered help with language, testing, visas, travel, living expenses and finding a job on graduation. The only thing Blue Rose Compass asks in return is a commitment to finding future opportunities to help rebuild each refugee’s country of origin. BRC requires that a graduate works for five years minimum in a job that impacts their community or region.
Lorna Solis, founder and CEO of Blue Rose Compass, said in an article, “This will make 100 dreams come true each year and affect the lives of many others. When I visit refugee camps I am heartbroken by the waste of talent and human potential. Gifted students are being left to stagnate. Girls who have the potential to achieve academically, are often married off and become mothers in their teens. I see first hand how education in conflict zones can bring opportunities to youth who would otherwise have none.”
As far as the name goes, Solis feels that the young refugee scholars are like blue roses — rare and precious — and the organization itself symbolizes the compass, helping these gifted men and women find their way.
– Keaton McCalla