Refugee Revelations at Richmond Library

Saturday 7 November 2015

On a recent Saturday, 27 people between the ages of 9 and much older, gathered at Richmond Library to briefly enter the world of a refugee camp using UNICEF’s state of the art Virtual Reality headgear.

UNICEF has been pioneering the use of Virtual Reality as a way to raise awareness of the issues facing refugee children. People wearing the headgear were transported to a refugee camp where more than 80 000 people have escaped to from the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere.

UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director Vivien Maidaborn says, “The technology is incredible, but the real story is the millions of children in Syria who have been affected by a conflict now in its fifth year, who need our help. This technology is only a  bridge to them.”

The people who took part in the event were often deeply affected by the experience, and all left the library having learnt something new.

Below is a range of responses from some of the participants:

“I didn’t know what was going on in Syria before doing this.”

“I’ve got so much and they’ve got so little.”

“The camps were completely devoid of character. Barren. But also a strong structure ... very organised ... lots of activities.”

“I didn’t know what a refugee camp was beforehand.”

“Really eye-opening.”