World Refugee Day: Celebrating our Refugee Neighbors

Author: Annalane Miller, Intern

World Refugee Day is designated by the UN as a day to become informed about the plight of refugees, celebrate their strength, courage and contributions, and show your support for these families and the cultural diversity they contribute to our communities.

In fiscal year 2016, 84,995 refugees came to the United States, and LSS/NCA helped to resettle and welcome over 1,000 of them.  This year, most of the refugees resettled through LSS/NCA come from Iraq and Afghanistan as aiding American soldiers overseas; while most refugees resettled throughout the nation came from Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and Myanmar (formerly Burma). Each refugee has a story of  fleeing extreme violence, persecution of beliefs, or violent, but they all share a common dream—to find safety, belonging, and another chance for their children. [1]

Once they get settled and integrated in their new home, refugees become strong members of the community.  Most refugees have strong entrepreneurial spirits, and a desire to work. This is illustrated by the number of men and women who have started businesses, created jobs and contributed to the community’s growing economy, working to make the community more attractive and vibrant for all who live here.

From New York to Minnesota to Georgia, refugees are helping to revitalize fading communities. In DC refugees are flourishing and giving back. Read the stories of just a few refugees we have worked with who have become vice presidents, honor roll students, army translators, and nurses.

Marzieh Gheibi left inhumane treatment in Iran and after hard work and years of studying continued her career as a nurse in Maryland.

Hamed escaped human rights abuses in Iran to come to the US. He started out as a dishwasher and is now the vice president at a nonprofit which helps foreign students find housing and peer mentors.

Abdul and his family had to flee their home in Baghdad. After several years of living in refugee camps and teaching their children without any books or paper, they came to Virginia where he is now a translator for the army and his children are honor roll students.

Our communities play a large role in helping each and every refugee succeed and become self-sufficient.  Here are a few ways you can support refugees.

  •   Sign the UN’s #WithRefugees petition   
    • This petition encourages governments to act with solidarity and shared responsibility towards refugees. Asking governments to ensure that every refugee child gets an education, every refugee family has somewhere safe to live, and that every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.
  •   Volunteer   
    • LSS/NCA has many opportunities to support refugees including being a mentor to a new family, donating a welcome kit, or providing transportation to doctor appointments and grocery stores.
    • Volunteer at a LSS/NCA sponsored World Refugee Day Event in Maryland (July 8) and Virginia (July 15). For more information contact Mira Mendick mendickm@lssnca.org to volunteer at the MD event and Kianoosh Asar asark@lssnca.org for the Virginia event.

It’s important to recognize and celebrate members of our community. Here are a few ways to celebrate refugees in honor of World Refugee Day.

  • Learn more about refugees by attending a movie screening on June 20.
    • Warehoused sheds light on the daily life and unique challenges of refugees across the globe through a glimpse at life in Dadaab, Kenya, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. The story follows several people as they try to carve out an existence in storage, a story that has been repeating itself all over the globe for centuries. Warehoused reveals the vital role that nations and organizations have in the lives of millions of people simply in search of home.”
    • After Spring is a feature documentary that focuses on the Syrian refugee crisis. By following two refugee families in transition and aid workers fighting to keep the camp running, audiences will experience what it is like to live in Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees.”

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