Story by Kayla Iheukwu, International Services Coordinator, Cincinnati, OH
The American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region was pleased to join the Junior League of Cincinnati and Refugee Connect for a World Refugee Day Soccer Tournament. During our June 13th World Refugee Day celebration, the goal was to engage our refugee community and welcome our region’s newest neighbors through a day of family activities! The event included a resource center with different refugee service provider organizations and a soccer tournament for the youth and adults. Additional activities included free onsite dental screenings and job training.
The American Red Cross was able to have a booth at the Resource Center providing refugees with the opportunity to learn about the reconnecting families services of the Red Cross. This program helps reconnect families separated internationally by conflict, disaster, migration and other emergencies. As many refugees have been separated from loved ones throughout their experiences of fleeing conflict, living in a refugee camp, and being resettled, this service is a crucial for giving them peace of mind concerning the whereabouts and well-being of their loved ones.
First aid kits were also raffled off to members in the community with the intention to give participants and their families a chance to be more prepared for health emergencies. A few families were lucky to have their names called and the children were particularly excited.
There was also opportunity to educate the community about another American Red Cross services, Disaster Cycle Services. Information on home fires was available and smoke detectors demonstrations were given. The alarms were there to teach about how to test fire alarms at home. Disaster Cycle Services representation was available to inform individuals of how to schedule a free fire alarm replacement if their fire alarms fail when they conduct their home test.
By having Disaster Cycle Services present, the Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region was able to provide the refugees in the community with the opportunity to learn more about preparing and preventing home fires. This is important because many migrants and refugees in the region experience home fires due to language barriers and negligent landlords. Prevention and preparedness resources made available to the community helped us educate the individuals at the event about how to better prepare for home fires and the resources that are available if a fire occurs in their homes.
The event gave us the opportunity to share American Red Cross services and volunteer opportunities with over 600 refugees and their families. The event provided space for us to meet with refugees in the community and speak with them briefly. We also learned what other resources could benefit the refugee community in the future and helped establish new ideas on outreach and future collaborative initiatives.
Overall, the event was a success. We were excited to be a part of the World Refugee Day Soccer Tournament! It was very rewarding to witness the joy expressed by many teams. Many of the refugees appeared to be at home as the experience gave them a chance to play a sport they know and love while receiving information about resources in their new community. It was a great way for them to work together toward something and further cultivate already established bonds.
The event was a great, innovative way to reach what is often a hard community to access. With so many refugees present, it was a creative way to connect with them for future interactions and services. The American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region was privileged and pleased to partner on this event to share information on Restoring Family Links and other great services offered by the chapter and its wonderful volunteers!