World Refugee Day

Every 20 minutes, people flee their home countries because of war, persecution or terror and become refugees, seeking a new home where they can be safe.

“The root problems are war and hatred, not people who flee; refugees are among the first victims of terrorism,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said this year on World Refugee Day.

World Refugee is an international holiday celebrated every year on June 20th in an expression of solidarity with people who have been uprooted from their home countries and a celebration of their cultures. June is also immigrant heritage month.

Today in Kansas City, in celebration of the international community in the city, the local refugee resettlement agency hosted a party in honor of refugee families for the surrounding community.

The food was proudly prepared by the refugee community and featured: mohinga fish soup from Burma, Nepali potatoes, Middle Eastern hummus, pitas, dates and Honduran pupusas.

The crowd was filled with faces from all around the world: Burma, Nepal, Bhutan, Syria, Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Honduras and El Salvador. After everyone got a heaping plate of food, people settled in to watch the talent show- a lineup of people ages 3–53, and a smile on all of their faces for getting to share what’s important to them. There was singing, guitar, piano and dancing

“As we celebrate we remember those on the other side of the world who live in fear while we live in hope. We need to all come together and make a difference in the world,” a Karen singer stated after his group sang a beautiful traditional song.

A Nepali man sang a traditional song as well, but was missing his partner who was supposed to bring the musical instrument. He still sang, but he said today we were getting “no curry, only rice.” After his song, he explained its meaning which was the idea that no one knows what will happen two minutes from now. We must love everyone we meet as if it’s the last moment together on Earth.

It was a beautiful afternoon that took everyone in the room to all continents of the Earth. Events like this give a person hope for the world, as we see people from all different backgrounds agreeing on what a good life is, and what it means to smile with your whole heart. This year for World Refugee Day around the world, I hope we all remember that life doesn’t have to be quite as complicated and as scary as we make it out to be. Grab a plate of food, and take a chance on who you might meet sitting next to you while together you watch people sing and dance with their whole being.

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Originally published at on June 25, 2017.



midwestern librarian, writer, activist

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