Battling statelessness as a community

Christiana Bukalo, Co-founder of Statefree & Expert by experience
/ 5 mins read

Have you ever asked yourself if you are worthy? Am I worthy of love, worthy of this job, worthy of promotion? Am I worthy of joy? Am I worthy of living a life that is fulfilled? As a child, I felt worthy of everything. Worthy of being loved, being hugged, worthy of going to the playground whenever I wanted. Most importantly, I felt worthy of living the life that I wanted to live.

But have you ever asked yourself if you are worthy of a nationality? Because I never did. Not until I grew older and understood that apparently, I am not. And I am not the only one. The way our world is set up right now, there are millions of people who live with that story. Every 10 minutes, a stateless child is born somewhere in this world. 


A sense of belonging & ‘statelessness’

Underneath all of the administrative issues, one of the most excruciating consequences of statelessness is the burden of exclusion and the lacking sense of belonging. No matter how thankful I am for my family and my friends, and no matter how hard I work to influence my own life, in the end, none of these things would ever be able to eradicate this deeply rooted sense of uncertainty and unwantedness. That is because this non-status of ‘statelessness’ is a constant reminder of the fact that I am still not recognised as a member of the country I have always lived in.

At some point I started asking myself: what if we could re-frame this narrative? What if we could detach this theoretical frame of nationality from our sense of belonging? If you were to imagine these 15 million people affected by statelessness came together, how could they feel alone? And if you went one step further and made sure those people were in direct contact with the people working on the issue, wouldn’t it be possible for all of us to debunk what is needed to create a system that includes us all?
This is how the idea of Statefree as a global forum for stateless people was born.

A reflection on togetherness as a potential avenue towards change for stateless people

The concept behind Statefree is rooted in the conviction that belonging is possible for all of us and that we create long lasting change most effectively through community. The mission of the forum is to build a community for stateless people and their allies. The idea has become reality and the forum is finally online. That being said, I’m honoured to share with you why community lies at the core of this vision and how Statefree will help us to create belonging. 

Why community?

It sometimes feels as if statelessness has become an insurmountable problem.

Should we focus on long term political change or prioritise immediate relief for stateless people? Does it make sense to offer general support or do we need to empower those who are affected to help themselves? Is this fight about nationality for all or about inclusion regardless of nationality? And if all, what comes first?

All of these questions reflect the complex mosaic of invisibility, low levels of awareness and urgency that has formed around the issue of statelessness. While this mosaic makes it hard to envision a world in which stateless people are allowed to live a life in peace and acceptance, it also pays tribute to the need for collective action. Statelessness, as one of the most challenging human rights issues, can be exhausting and frustrating. Mainly for those affected - but also for those who have dedicated their energy to solving this issue. Fighting this battle alone seems unendurable. Above all, fighting this battle without stateless people at the center of our actions is misleading. While several organisations and actors in the civil society field have been working to achieve equality for stateless people, stateless people themselves continue to be underrepresented in the area they understand the most. With Statefree we want to increase visibility and empower stateless people to become the focal point of the change happening in this area.

Communities have the ability to make us feel heard, seen and inspire action. Acting from a space of community presents a way to confront this issue collectively and sustainably.

By coming together we can create a union that jointly stands against the mosaic of complexity by upholding each other, connecting our knowledge and learning from our experiences.

How is Statefree helping us to build connections?

In conversations with other stateless people and allies from the sector, I’ve been able to witness the ways in which we are all connected through our in-depth understanding of statelessness and its impact. Despite the obstacles we face when living with or working on statelessness, all of us remain committed to our vision of a better world. Hence, in some sense we already are a community. However, so far, this community has been missing a dedicated space to come together, discuss perspectives and support each other. With Statefree we aim to close this gap and offer a space in which this can come true. As a digital bridge Statefree connects people, knowledge and voices to create belonging and empowerment.


The forum will allow stateless people to

… tell their stories and make their voices heard

… support other stateless people by sharing their knowledge by experience

… learn about what is happening in the statelessness sector


The platform enables allies to empower stateless people by

… updating the community about their work and progress in the sector

… sharing findings and facts about statelessness

… listening and engaging in the stories that are shared by stateless people


Statefree will help ALL of us to

… connect and get to know each other

… co-create a knowledge base

… listen to each other and create a community to which we all belong.

What now?

Stateless person - Activist - Advocate - Researcher - Community Builder - Lawyer - Change maker…   

No matter how you identify yourself in this realm: Statefree is ready for you!

By clicking the link below you will reach the brand new Statefree community.

Join the conversation & share the forum with companions and everyone that wants to follow the journey.


We can’t wait to welcome you there.

With gratitude, hugs & joyful anticipation for what this community will bring for us,

- Christiana & the Statefree team

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