To honor World Refugee Day in Georgia, a group of leaders from inside and outside the community of refugee-serving organizations have come together to host a series of events on the week of June 17th-22nd.
“Every event is tailored to offer something to everyone,” said Mathew George, director of strategy and family services at Refugee Family Services and an organizer of the week’s events. “It is the first year we’ve done several of these things and I’m excited that they are happening.”
World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations in December 2000, and is observed on June 20th every year to commemorate and raise awareness of the challenges overcome by the world’s refugees, and the strengths and talents they bring to bear. This year’s events are located throughout Clarkston and the surrounding area and all events are free and open to the public.
This week’s activities include a capstone celebration at the Clarkston Community Center on Thursday that will include a naturalization ceremony, a pair of art exhibitions at the Clarkston City Hall Annex and the Community Center, a film screening and conversation with panelists on the Emory University campus, and a Human Library set up at the DeKalb County Library in Clarkston.
Amber Mull, chair of the planning committee for the World Refugee Day activities, said the events came together with support of the Coalition of Refugee Stakeholders, which includes her organization, the International Rescue Committee (IRC). She said that this year shows a marked expansion in the range of events and activities happening.
“The more people we can reach about the positive contributions that refugees make to our communities, the better,” she said. Mull sent an e-mail to a number of organizations and individuals who might be interested in coordinating and organizing activities. Jennifer Kimball was one community member who received the e-mail. She said she came to the initial meeting at the IRC office and was not sure what to expect.
“I might have been the only one who was just showing up,” she said. Kimball became the volunteer committee chair, and her committee took responsibility for the main celebration, on Saturday, June 22, from 1-3 p.m., at the Clarkston Community Center.
“I think it’s important that the wider community understand that the refugee community is worth knowing and worth working with,” said Rachel Stanley, who is the program coordinator for the Global Village Project, a non-profit school in Decatur, GA that serves exclusively refugee girls.
“I love working with refugees,” she said. “They are at the same time ordinary and extraordinary. They are mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, and aunts.”
For more information on the week’s events, check out GA World Refugee Day Facebook page.