Every person has a story to tell. But some stories are not heard as often as they may need to be. 

During the first half of 2023, UNHCR’s Representation for the Nordic and Baltic countries coordinated the Refugee Speakers Programme. The Refugee Speakers Programme is an initiative, run with support from speaking coaches from TEDxStockholm and other TEDx organizations, which provides an opportunity for aspiring speakers with refugee background to develop their storytelling and public speaking skills. 

Throughout the programme, the participants – Olga, Ahmad, Eva and Sayed – participated in a series of workshops and received individual coaching in public speaking to prepare them for sharing their personal stories about fleeing and building a new life in Sweden.

On World Refugee Day on 20 June 2023, the participants shared their stories in front of a public audience at UNHCR’s Pass the Mic event. 

Watch the video to learn more about the programme, and scroll down to meet Olga, Ahmad, Eva and Sayed and listen to their moving stories.

Voices Without Borders 

The choir Voices Without Borders (Gränslösa röster) performed a moving version of the South African freedom song ‘Freedom is coming’ at our Pass the Mic event on World Refugee Day in Stockholm. The choir consists of asylum seekers, newly arrived and established Swedes, all united by the power of music.

Scroll through the photo carousel below to see more photos from World Refugee Day 2023, when UNHCR passed the mic to Sayed, Olga, Ahmad and Eva. 

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Audience members looking forward to hearing the four speakers' stories.

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Before the speakers took to the stage, a short introduction video was shown.

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The event took place at Norrsken House in central Stockholm.

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Sayed was the first refugee speaker to take to the stage and share his impactful story.

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Eva arrived in Sweden in March 2022 after being forced to flee Ukraine. At Pass the Mic she shared her moving story about the importance of kindness, help, support and hope.

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The choir Voices Without Borders performed three songs at Pass the Mic.

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Olga was forced to flee her home country in 2022: "Since I left Ukraine, my emotional state looks like a rollercoaster. But in my low points I think of the people I met in my first months as a refugee, and I remind myself that the world is actually good.”

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“All of a sudden two of the smugglers just grabbed my 1 year old and my 5 year old and threw them off the boat, in the middle of the sea, in the middle of the night.” Thank you Ahmad for sharing your terrifying story of fleeing Syria.

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The audience was moved to tears by Sayed, Olga, Eva and Ahmad's stories.

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Sayed, Eva, Ahmad and Olga received well-deserved applauses from the audience.

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After the speakers had shared their stories they, and their coaches from TEDx organisations, received flowers on stage.

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After the official programme was over, audience members could take photos with our special World Refugee Day photo/selfie frame.