On Saturday, June 23, more than 200 community members gathered in the greater Washington, D.C., area for a celebration in honor of World Refugee Day. The Enough Project’s Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program, or DDT,and Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, or LSS/NCA, co-hosted the event, which included international music, art, and food in honor of global refugees and those who have resettled in the greater D.C. community.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Falls Church, VA, was filled with laughter, conversation, song, and dance. With painted faces, children ran around and enthusiastically made crafts while parents enjoyed delicious ethnic foods. The food, both donated and prepared for the special day, included popular dishes from Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan. Guests also enjoyed international music performances, dance, and art made by locally resettled refugees.
According to the U.N. Refugee Agency’s 2011 Global Trends Report, there are currently 15.2 million refugees worldwide. Of the less than 80,000 refugees each year who are lucky enough to qualify for resettlement in the U.S., many continue to face challenges when they arrive such as overcoming the language barrier and finding jobs to support their family members here and abroad. LSS/NCA welcomes and supports hundreds of these refugees into the D.C. area each year.
The World Refugee Day celebration gave refugee families and LSS/NCA and DDT volunteers the opportunity to enjoy a fun-filled day and celebrate the resilience of the refugees in overcoming their past hardships and the ones they continue to face. Some of the refugees who participated in the event have been in the U.S. for years, and others for merely months. The event helped to forge connections between refugee communityies in the greater D.C. area, and provided a comfortable atmosphere where guests could celebrate their own culture and heritage.
Both DDT and LSS/NCA extend a warm thank you to Abu Abbas Iraqi Food, Amoos Kabob, Blessed Coffee, Darfur Interfaith Network, Founding Farmers, Girl Scout Troop #2325, Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro, Moishe House DC, Pop Chips, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods for their generous donations that helped to make the celebration possible.
For more information on the work of or how to get involved with the Darfur Dream Team or Lutheran Social Services, please visit their websites at http://darfurdreamteam.org/ and http://www.lssnca.org/lss/wwd_refugee.