American Red Cross Celebrates World Refugee Day

Story by Jon Dillon, National Headquarters, Casework and Outreach Associate
Photos by Lisa Nations and Katie Wallace, National Headquarters, Interns

One family torn apart by war is too many. These words, the UNHCR's theme for this year's World Refugee Day, serve as a reminder of an all too common consequence of conflict - separation from a loved one. This separation often adds mental and emotional strain to already difficult situations. In the midst of these crises, the American Red Cross, along with its partner Red Cross Red Crescent societies and the International Committee for the Red Cross, can help restore the broken bonds of communication through its Restoring Family Links (RFL) program.

An important piece of this program is the outreach work done by Red Cross chapters across the country to support refugee communities and ensure their access to the RFL program as well as other services provided by the American Red Cross. Throughout the year, staff and volunteers engage with other refugee service provider organizations to strengthen the resiliency of refugee communities. For many chapters, World Refugee Day, a day established by the United Nations to honor the courage and determination of those forced to flee their homes because of persecution or violence, is the centerpiece of these outreach efforts.

This year, the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links team at National Headquarters joined chapters and other organizations across the nation in recognizing World Refugee Day by hosting a World Fair and several other events. The fair brought in vendors and entertainment, representing the diverse cultures in our community, from across the DC, Virginia, and Maryland area to celebrate the resiliency of refugee communities and call attention to the ongoing plight of the over 50 million people who were forced to flee their homes in 2013 due to conflict. The following photo essay are from our World Fair celebration, just one of many events hosted to draw attention to refugee communities around the world.

Dancers from the Natyabhoomi School of Dance perform in Mysore Style of Bharatanatyam, the South Indian classical dance form.

Sarah Moore, from Amani Africa joined our World Refugee Day celebration as a vendor! Amani Africa is a fair trade organization that provides vocational training to marginalized women across sub-Saharan Africa.

Dancers from the Natyabhoomi School of Dance strike a pose as an end to a fantastic performance for the American Red Cross' World Refugee Day celebration.

The Northern Virginia Rondalla brought to life classic Filipino folk songs for the World Fair audience.

Restoring Family Links intern, Lisa Nations, greets our special guest, Mr. Silvester Gboya, a former refugee and RFL client who was reunited with his family after being resettled in the United States.

The House of Angklung joins the World Refugee Day celebration by teaching Red Cross staff and volunteers how to play the angklung, a traditional instrument from Indonesia made of bamboo.

It took some patience on their part and some time practicing on ours, but we were eventually successful in making some beautiful music.

Joe Gibson, Program Associate with the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) team, basks in the glow of the American Red Cross Headquarters Atrium while promoting the IHL program during our World Refugee Day World Fair.

Thank you to all the volunteers, performers, and vendors who made the World Refugee Day World Fair a success! It is our hope that through this and other Red Cross events across the country helped raise awareness about refugee issues while also promoting the services of the Red Cross to reconnect separated families.