By Jillian Woodgate, IINE Marketing and Communications Intern
What is World Refugee Day?
On June 20th, World Refugee Day was recognized in different ways across the globe. Initially established in 2000 by the United Nations, World Refugee Day aims to commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees worldwide. It also exists to raise the public awareness of one of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time – the global refugee crisis.
According to a recent report on global trends of forced displacement published by the UN Refugee Agency, there are currently more than 65 million individuals that have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. Just in the past year, 10.3 million people were displaced worldwide. To put this figure into perspective – the number of displacements is equivalent to 28,300 people forced to flee their homes per day, 20 people per minute.
World Refugee Activities at the International Institute
In honor of World Refugee Day this past Tuesday, June 20th, the International Institute of New England (IINE) hosted activities at each of our three sites. In Boston, we welcomed our partner TripAdvisor to our office where volunteers created murals with a group of our refugee and immigrant clients. The activity allowed our clients to paint canvases inspired by the flags that represent the countries they are from, and the finished product visually represents our clients coming together as one community in their new home. We also enjoyed a live musical performance by the talented Eureka Band.
Some members of the IINE community also traveled to celebrate World Refugee Day with employees and volunteers at the TripAdvisor headquarters in Needham, MA. During the day, TripAdvisor volunteers assembled and presented the IINE team with 50 children and adult bicycles for our clients. These bicycles are so valuable because they will create an effective means of transportation that will allow our clients to commute to work, school, and to the International Institute for English and workforce development classes.
In Manchester, due to the large presence of our refugee and client families, IINE partnered with the Richmond Middle School and the Church of Jesus Christ Dartmouth for a “day at the playground,” where close to seventy participants celebrated with face-painting, soccer games, drumming, bubbles, volleyball, and cultural dancing. These partners also held a school backpack drive, created home welcome kits, and donated Walmart gift-cards for our clients that will be used to aid them in their resettlement process. In addition, the staff in our Lowell office celebrated the day by hosting a lunch and brainstorming future activities to conduct with our clients.
Why EVERYDAY Is World Refugee Day
This day of commemoration helps remind both the IINE team and the public of the importance of supporting the world refugee crisis. While it is important to have one day a year for people to band together around the cause, the refugees need our help and support each and every day. We need your continued commitment to help provide immediate and long-term assistance to new Americans.