June 20th is the officialWorld Refugee Day, sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This is a day to remember refugees--people who have fled their countries. The reasons for fleeing include war and conflict, persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Some people are forced to leave in the middle of the night, escaping under the cover of darkness, leaving by themselves or with their families. Family members can get separated from each other in the chaos. It's a dangerous journey and not one that anyone chooses. Dorothy* told me about tying her young children together with a rope, so she wouldn't lose anyone, and walking for months.
Sadly, the world is experiencing the highest number of refugees right now. UNHCR’s annual Global Trends reportshows that almost 70.8 million people are now forcibly displaced. According to the UNHCR, "this is double the level of 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than a year ago, and corresponds to a population between that of Thailand and Turkey."
On Saturday, June 15th in Grand Forks, to kick off the weekly Farmer's Market, Global Friends put on a program for World Refugee Day where we recognized the plight of refugees all over the world and honored those who live in Greater Grand Forks.
Watching Gifty and Peace, two Red River High School students, (photo above with Gifty on the left), dance at our World Refugee Day program was delightful. Looking back at the first time I met Gifty, when we were introducing her to two University of North Dakota (UND) Occupational Therapy (OT) students, she was shy and quiet, and not sure what she wanted to do with the OT students who were there to help her get more acquainted with Grand Forks. Now, Gifty knew she wanted to dance at World Refugee Day--and not just one dance, but two!
Gifty is just one of 140 youth that, thanks to supporters like you, have had a mentor in the 2018/19 school year or been provided some assistance. Your donation, helps us continue to work with New American youth-- to provide a mentor, offer homework support, go on a field trip, or participate in an activity. It's easy to donate. Please visit our websiteto donate or mail in your donation to Global Friends at 600 Demers Avenue; Suite 406A, Grand Forks, ND 58201.
Cynthia H. Shabb
*Not her real name.
Children who participated in the Summer Performing Arts program through the Grand Forks Public Schools performed at World Refugee Day in Grand Forks.