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  • If everything had gone as planned, my life would have been completely different.

  • My mother was the daughter of a prominent businessman in Damascus.

  • Everyone in my family says everyone in Syria wanted to marry your mother.

  • She was well educated and widely known as one of the most beautiful women in Syria, and her future was all planned out.

  • She had an arranged marriage to my father, a handsome, young, talented doctor.

  • They moved to the U.

  • S.

  • To an affluent suburb of Washington, D.

  • C, where my father started his medical practice.

  • And my brother and I were born and raised from the vantage point of my family in Syria.

  • It was a storybook American dream, at least at first.

  • My earliest memory is of a night at home with my family.

  • I was very young, and I remember we had a few people over and it felt like a party.

  • People were laughing and talking.

  • It was a fun night.

  • After they left, I was sitting on the floor in the hallway playing and from where I was sitting, I could see the back of the sofa in the living room where my parents were sitting and talking.

  • I continued playing and when I looked back up, but my parents right at that moment out of nowhere, my father hit my mother so fast and so hard she immediately covered her eye.

  • She got up and she ran over to where I was sitting up close.

  • I could start to see the blood running through her fingers.

  • At some point during all of this, she must have called an ambulance to frantically started getting ready to go, and she asked me to get her shoes.

  • So I did.

  • I found one that she loved.

  • She wore it all the time, but I couldn't find the matching shoe.

  • I remember so desperately looking for this shoe, but I couldn't find it.

  • My mother word.

  • Two different shoes to the hospital that night.

  • And that was the last time we were in my childhood home.

  • We didn't pack a thing.

  • I didn't take my favorite toys.

  • We just left.

  • And as young as I was, I remember a very clear sense that it was time to go.

  • My mother in that crisis was faced with two hard choices.

  • Stay in a familiar, dangerous world or leave with nothing not even matching shoes as an adult.

  • I look back now and I think of how scared she must have been leaving for an uncertain future in an unfamiliar country alone with two little kids.

  • Who's to say which choices harder?

  • But I'm proud of her for making the choice that she did.

  • She was determined to raise us in the U.

  • S.

  • So she worked hard and she raised us as a single mother.

  • And that experience taught me that life is full of tough choices, choices that are made even tougher when there isn't a plan in a safe, secure way out.

  • When crisis hits in 2013 I found my mother to straw again.

  • She was watching a video.

  • It was a video of her father's business in Syria being demolished by the military.

  • The business that my grandfather had built from the ground up was gone.

  • Conditions in Syria continued to deteriorate, gas attacks, neighbors killed, friends missing.

  • And my relatives started thinking more seriously about leaving.

  • Like my mother all those years ago, they were faced with the same hard choice stay in a familiar, dangerous place or leave.

  • Staying meant risking their lives leaving meant an uncertain future in an unfamiliar country.

  • And where would they go to a refugee camp with no running water, food or electricity and no safe way to get there in the first place?

  • My mother asked if there was anything I could do to help, and I wanted to help in any way I could, but I had no clue where to start.

  • So I began learning about the options available for civilians and conflict.

  • And the more I learned, the more I realized that there was no clear right choice.

  • Go to a refugee camp and live in squalor, stay home and manage the risks or apply for a visa, some of which could take years, none of which were guaranteed.

  • I became consumed, and I reached out to every person, an organization I could think of, starting with my congressman's office.

  • I called, and I asked what type of visa my family might be able to apply for.

  • I was told that a tourist visa would be the fastest way out, but that it wouldn't apply in my relatives case.

  • A tourist visa is to come see the Washington Monument not to escape a war, so I asked.

  • Well, what type of visa is for escaping a war?

  • And they said that one didn't exist.

  • But maybe I could petition Congress.

  • I continued reaching out, and I got us far as the secretary of state.

  • In the end, my relatives had a signed letter of support from John Kerry, but none of it mattered.

  • None of it worked.

  • I had been more resourceful than I had ever been, and ultimately there was nothing I could do to help them.

  • And I've never felt so completely powerless or like more of a failure.

  • Every day I would watch the news and I would see images of people that looked like me dying because there was no clear choice.

  • I would read about refugees that put their Children in rafts to escape.

  • When they were asked why, they said it was because they didn't have a better option, that the water had become safer than the land.

  • And I found incredible irony and that so many people were losing their lives, not because of the conflict.

  • But on the way out.

  • I learned that when it comes to refugees were improvising, there was no plan to handle a refugee crisis of this magnitude.

  • My relatives were just a few off more than five million Syrian refugees because there was no plan.

  • People were tor NW between impossible choices that no person should have to make.

  • And there was no excuse.

  • This didn't happen overnight.

  • I became distracted at work At the time I worked in business development for a global technology firm.

  • I wanted to quit.

  • I thought maybe I should go work full time as an advocate for refugees.

  • But my boss encouraged me to take some time and think.

  • And then one day I got an email how big data is transforming the cheese making industry, and I was livid.

  • I could not believe that this was how we were using technology.

  • I knew that for businesses we could predict things like what people wanted to buy or what they wanted.

  • Toa watch.

  • There seemed to be a secure pathway to profit, but not to safety.

  • But it made me think What if we could get ahead of the next migration?

  • What if we could apply predictive technology to a refugee crisis and I had this vision that if we could predict it, we could enable government agencies and humanitarian aid organizations with the right information ahead of time so that it wasn't such a reactive process.

  • We could develop and reinforce secure pathways, undermine human traffickers, prevent human rights violations and make policy decisions early so that when people need a way out, they have one.

  • So that even if I couldn't help my family, maybe someone else's family would have better choices.

  • So we built a prototype.

  • We tested it and it worked in the same way that we consider wind speed, temperature and barometric pressure and determining a weather forecast.

  • We can now make predictions about populations in crisis by looking at things like news, weather, social media and GDP.

  • And we can conduct what if scenario analyses so we can better understand and visualize the impact of policy decisions.

  • We can ask and answer questions like what if we close the border?

  • Or what if transportation is unavailable and we can respond to a refugee crisis proactively?

  • I just recently learned that we're going to be deploying our Refugee and Migration Predictive analytics solution with an organization to support refugees in Denmark and next year with an organization to help prevent human trafficking I believe that the way we currently respond to a refugee crisis makes an already difficult situation even harder.

  • If we don't predict the next crisis, we will once again find ourselves backed into a corner, reacting to what feels like an emergency and, rather than thoughtfully responding, will make fear based decisions that influence our policy and are not a true representation of our values.

  • And people will lose their lives because they weren't given a better choice.

  • My relatives eventually made it to safety, though not in the U.

  • S.

  • And not because of anything I did to try to help them.

  • Over the last few years I've watched is almost my entire extended family in Syria have become refugees.

  • I've learned that sometimes you can do everything right and still fail.

  • I know there will always be people and governments that won't use this technology, but we have to make sure that the people who want to do the right thing, who want to help have the tools and the information they need to succeed.

  • And those who don't act can no longer hide behind the excuse that they didn't know it was coming.

If everything had gone as planned, my life would have been completely different.

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我們將如何預測下一次難民危機|拉納-諾瓦克|TED研究所 (How we’ll predict the next refugee crisis | Rana Novack | TED Institute)

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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