World Refugee Day celebrates the strength and courage of people forced to flee their homes to escape violence or persecution. While June 20th commemorations invite all of us to support refugees, our community of peacemakers recognizes that support involves more than providing material goods or donations. Standing with our refugee friends means meeting them where they are, listening to their stories, and spending time with them doing something fun so they can forget their troubles for a little while. Thanks to you, this World Refugee Day, our community of peacebuilders was able to do just that, bringing hope to those so far from home.
Partnering with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), we helped organize Hope Far From Home, an event celebrating refugees in a local park in Juarez, near the US Mexico border. During the day-long festivities, people staying at local shelters were invited to the park to enjoy live music, capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines dance, acrobatics, music, and spirituality) exhibitions, dance shows, and lunch. Each participating NGO had its own stand with various activities and games.
Thanks to your support, our stand hosted a very special game of Jeopardy! with questions about music, sports, history, fun facts, and geography specific to Latin American culture. (Test your own knowledge with a sample from our Jeopardy! at the end of this post.) Our refugee friends had fun answering questions and learning new things about different countries in Latin America. We provided reusable water bottles, refugee-made soaps from Iraq, chips, 100 cuernitos, a Mexican sweet bread similar to a croissant, and stickers. A local soda company donated dozens of Jarritos sodas for our stand.
Recent changes in US immigration policy have stranded those seeking safety at Mexico’s northern and southern borders, where local resources are already stretched thin. At the same time, there has been an increase in hate speech towards and harassment of people seeking safety. One reason we wanted to participate in this World Refugee Day event was to promote social cohesion by providing an opportunity for refugees to share their stories with the local community so everyone could realize our similarities while respecting our differences. At our stand, there was a notebook where people could write messages or stories they wanted to share for anyone to read:
“Thanks for making me feel special.”
“You’re the best. Thanks for your support.”
“My home is where my family is.”
“Nice activity of awareness.”
“Keep on inspiring everyone to keep going. In any circumstance.”
“Chasing your dream will always be the journey of your life.”
“You’re very brave.”
This book is a poignant keepsake to help us remember this event and that in this big, beautiful world, we are all just passing through. Love boldly, love first, and love anyway.
In this big, beautiful world, we are all just passing through. Love boldly, love first, and love anyway.
Play Our Version of Jeopardy! Celebrating Latin America (The Answers will be announced on our Instagram Page on Friday.)
- From what country is the composer of “The Lady of the Four Decades?”
- What is the most famous song of the Honduran group Banda Blanca
- What is Venezuela’s most popular sport?
- What is the name of the most important stadium in El Salvador?
- Which countries did Simon Bolivar help become independent?
- What was the second nation in the Americas to become independent?
- What does the Mexican phrase, “You caught me in a curve” mean?
- What currency is used in Peru?
- Name the river that divides Mexico and Guatemala
- What is the smallest country in Central America?