Celebrating World Refugee Day in Chicago, Part 2

Story by Michelle McSweeney, SAF and International Services Manager, Chicago, IL

Foster Beach, June 20th 2015

On Saturday June 20th, the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois continued our World Refugee Day celebrations with our annual Soccer Tournament and Potluck event at Foster Beach Soccer Fields located in Uptown, Chicago.

The tournament kicked off at 9am in the morning, where 8 teams competed for the Championship, and home pride. Teams represented communities from Iraq, Karen (Burma), Chin (Burma), Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, and Ethiopia.

Red Cross staff and volunteers promote the organization's reconnecting families services.

Red Cross staff and volunteers promote the organization's reconnecting families services.

Alongside watching the soccer games, there were a variety of youth activities including kite-building and flying, face painting, finger painting and more. Attendees also had fun at the flower potting station, and many stopped by the advocacy table to sign up for voter registration, and sign petitions for fair housing for refugees. Then they headed over to the food station where cuisine from Somalia, Ethiopia, Iraq, India, and Burma covered the tables and drew lines around the park!

Event attendees join the dance.

Event attendees join the dance.

Following lunch, it was dance time! Performers from After School Matters, Living Water Church, and the Burmese Youth Dance Group helped continue the festivities and fun throughout the afternoon.

The Red Cross had our own booth as well, where we were able to provide 136 free emergency first aid kits to refugee families. We shared Restoring Family Links keychains and information in multiple languages about how the Red Cross helps reconnect separated families. And while our health services team was there, they fortunately did not have many injuries to attend to!

A representative from ICNA speaks about the importance of supporting refugees.

A representative from ICNA speaks about the importance of supporting refugees.

At the height of the event, we all took a few minutes away from celebration and soccer to reflect on the reason we all came together that day, and to recognize those who are observing Ramadan. Our partner from the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) USA spoke to the crowd on how “Ramadan teaches us all to remember how many around the world go without, and that service to others, no matter how small, can make the largest impact on someone else’s life.”

The winning team: United Star (Liberia)

The winning team: United Star (Liberia)

It was a wonderful day of family, celebration and recognition. Oh and who won the tournament? United Star (Liberia) of course!