These Groups Are Helping Refugees Rediscover Nature

By Stephanie Vermillion, Outside Magazine - On a warm July night in a park outside Chicago, Illinois, Nur Aga Rajaie, 16, caught his first hint of nature’s magic. He and a handful of friends had taken a short night hike from their tents, hoping to admire the stars before heading back for campfire s’mores. But the sky wasn’t the only thing sparkling.

“All of a sudden we noticed these flying insects had a beautiful green, glowing light,” Nur Aga told me. “They were lighting up the way. It was just so magical.”


Sure, fireflies are a staple on any summer camping trip, but for Nur Aga, a wildlife-documentary enthusiast, this was about more than pretty insects. He and his family had fled Afghanistan in 2015 after facing direct threats from the Taliban. For months, the Rajaie family lived homeless in Indonesia, where they were later placed in a detention camp, and then a processing camp, before settling in Chicago in 2019.






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