#HelloooAmerica is a low-pressure space where young refugees can access the information they need to lead safe and healthy lives, in a way that affirms their family, culture and futures. This new miniseries is made for and by refugee youth in partnership with the IRC in Atlanta, Advocates for Youth, Parallel World Labs and women-owned Atlanta production studio, Xerophile. 

In February 2019, the IRC in Atlanta, Advocates for Youth and Parallel World Labs formed an Innovation Team and applied for funding through Innovation Next—a project of Power to Decide—to develop a technology-based solution to address teen pregnancy prevention for refugee young people aged 18 to 24 in the U.S.

Aspiring to create something truly for and by refugee young people, the Innovation Team sought out technical support and training from IDEO in human-centered design—"a creative approach to problem solving (…) that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.” The Innovation Team held individual interviews, focus groups and workshops with more than 20 refugee young people living in Atlanta, originally from countries including Afghanistan, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Malaysia, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria and Thailand. These young people suggested and selected content topics and discussed the ways they prefer to receive information and consume media. From the larger group, three would-be miniseries stars emerged and—after the Innovation Team brought women-owned Atlanta production studio Xerophile on board—the #HelloooAmerica YouTube Playlist was born! 

Why is Talking About Sex So Taboo? | Episode 1 #HelloooAmerica

Let’s Talk: Birth Control! | Episode 2 #HelloooAmerica

Visioning Your Future | Episode 3 #HelloooAmerica

The #HelloooAmerica YouTube Playlist delivers medically accurate, culturally appropriate, affirming sexual health information, free instructional resources, and referrals that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. The three pilot episodes follow young stars Lily, Edy and Faiz as they engage with each other and local health and business professionals on topics including discussing sexual health, different birth control methods and personal goal setting. Faiz, Edy and Lily were able to shape the entire videos series, share their personal experiences, gain professional skills, and exercise their leadership and advocacy abilities through this project. Below they discuss their work on #HelloooAmerica.

Our #HelloooAmerica series stars from L-R: Lily, Edy and Faiz!
Our #HelloooAmerica series stars from L-R: Lily, Edy and Faiz!

Faiz (originally from Afghanistan) “I have past experience acting and was very interested in working behind the camera and with the production team, Xerophile. I have learned from this work about vlogging and information about sexual and reproductive health. I feel this is information that I should have been taught but never learned. I am glad that I got to be educated about reproductive and sexual health. I think it is important that guys learn about this information. For me, I know I don’t want to be a father right now, so helping other young people be successful and plan for their future is important.”

Edy (originally from Zambia) “Sexual health is important to me because I want the young women to know that they don’t have to rely on a man to make things happen. They can be independent and work hard for their goals. I enjoyed this project because I got experience learning how to act, vlogging, and sharing my ideas on women’s empowerment. I most enjoyed talking with Ms. Doris from Amani Women Center and learning from her advice because I am interested in starting my own business.”  

Lily (originally from Myanmar) “I really enjoyed this project because talking about sexual health is very important to me. In my community, it is very taboo to talk about things like sex and dating. I hope that these videos help young people learn how to talk about sexual health with their community and parents. I most enjoyed talking with Dr. Kim from Ethne Health Clinic in Clarkston. She has helped my Dad before, and I learned so much from her about birth control. I have always been interested in vlogging and YouTube and now I am excited that there are videos that can help other refugee young women—like me—to feel comfortable to start to talk about things like birth control and how to plan for their future.”

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In Episode Two of ✨HELLOOO AMERICA!✨ your hosts Edy-Naomi, Faiz and Lily are joined by Dr. Esther Kim of @ethnehealth to learn about ALLLLL the different forms of birth control!⁣ ⁣ #HelloooAmerica is a low-pressure space where young refugees can access the information they need to lead safe and healthy lives, in a way that affirms their family, culture and futures. This new miniseries is made for and by refugee youth in partnership with the IRC in Atlanta, @advocatesforyouth and women-owned Atlanta production studio, @madebyxerophile. ⁣ ⁣ Watch the full video on our IGTV, or click the link in our bio to watch on YouTube! ⁣ ⁣

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The IRC in Atlanta’s Reproductive Health Coordinator, Grace Paulsen, managed the project and worked closely with our series stars. "The most rewarding part of this experience was working with refugee young people who are highly motivated to educate themselves and recognize the value of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education as foundational to achieving their goals,” Grace shared. “I am incredibly honored to have worked with Faiz, Lily and Edy. They gave voice to this project, helped me to better understand what refugee young people want to learn about SRH, and they now have a platform as youth leaders and educators for their community. My hope for this project is that other refugee youth learn about SRH and can relate to the stories of our hosts. I would love for this project to create an online community were refugee youth are leaders and support each other in accessing reproductive health education and services.” 

The IRC in Atlanta is so grateful for our Innovation Team partners, our amazing production and design team at Xerophile, our community leaders from Amani Women Center and Ethne Health Clinic who made special guest appearances in the series, and—most of all—we are grateful for our amazing young people who made #HelloooAmerica a reality! Our team continues to seek funding to expand the project with future goals including creating a discussion guide for educators to use to hold conversations with young people around SRH.

To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at [email protected] or 678-636-8941.

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