Preliminary Analysis on Data

So far I have analyzed two out of my three sources of data, and the underlying theme that I have found is how refugee children conceptualize their identity through their physical environment. I knew that geography and the idea that borders are identity would come up, but I was surprised to see how early these children were comprehending that notion.

In my first data source (letters written by children in a Lebanese refugee camp, “Through Children’s Eyes…” article), these children who ranged from ages 12-15 were alluding to complex themes of prejudice and conflict. They viewed themselves as the human manifestation of the garbage that polluted their camp, and recognized their lost childhood by watching the Lebanese children play while they (the refugee children) worked. The kids also displayed an understanding of the larger conflict environment that caused their displacement and understand that they received prejudice remarks because of them being Palestinian. I found these themes by performing a rhetorical analysis on the word choice and tone creation the children chose to use in their letters.

In my second data source (“Missing Out,” Report by the UNHCR), I read through the report to see if it would address the themes found in the letters. I found that the report was solely focused on the creation of education programs for refugee youth, but did not include any attempts to improve parental involvement with creating education programs or for addressing the mental health needs of the children. There was a disconnect between the two sources, as the report had an idealist approach, whereas, the letters conveyed deep needs of cultural acceptance.

What really struck me in these two sources, is that the biggest theme was the connection of work and identity. These kids have been repeatedly told that their fate is that of a garbage man and then they see the amount of pollution in the camps which only reinforces that belief. The kids define their futures by the work they must do to assist their families. The UNHCR report addresses that education will assist in decreasing child labor, but it does not include how to better the economic reality of these families along with implementing youth education programs.