Story by Pauline Duncan, Western Pennsylvania Region, Regional Military and International Specialist
On World Refugee Day this year, resettlement agencies across Western Pennsylvania echoed UNHCR’s sentiments that “One Family Torn Apart by War is Too Many.” Hundreds convened on Pittsburgh’s Market Square, the city’s highly traveled and sought after centralized meeting spot, for a family-friendly community event featuring cultural foods, performances, crafts and activities from local refugee communities in and around the Pittsburgh area.
Often, people wonder who refugees are and why they are in Pittsburgh. This annual event is a great way for the whole community to learn about refugee issues, hear their stories first hand, and share in their cultures.
They are here because they were uprooted by conflicts in their own countries. Time and again, refugees prove their resilience. From fleeing conflict or persecution in their home country to learning to live in a new country with often completely different cultures and customs, refugee stories recount some of the most brutal atrocities committed in times of conflict. However, they also depict the incredible strength shown by those forced to restart their lives time and again.
This year the American Red Cross Western PA International Services and Community Outreach program teamed up with local community partners to provide programming education and service awareness by manning a canteen water station with staff and volunteers. We also had a Certified Health and Safety Instructor/Preparedness and Outreach volunteer on hand to answer any chapter programming questions.
World Refugee Day is just one day to come together to celebrate diversity and show support for the individuals and families trying make a better life and future for themselves. It is crucial to maintain this spirit and continue supporting refugee communities all year round.