World Refugee Day

IMG_3045 By Emily Laney, Atlanta Program Manager for Refugee Services

Saturday, June 20th, is World Refugee Day

All around the world, there will be events, festivals, awareness campaigns, celebrations, and times of contemplation. World Refugee Day is a time to celebrate refugees and to reflect on the difficulties they face. It's a day to advocate for peace to end the violence and persecution that so many people experience.

Working with refugees is one of the most rewarding and challenging things I've done in my human services career. It is challenging to work with and serve people who have been through so many trials. The fabric of our clients' life stories are woven with tragedy and loss. The sheer magnitude of fully understanding the experiences of refugees can feel overwhelming.

But it is so worth it.

A couple months ago, I was reminded why I enjoy working with refugees. LSG hosted a StoryCorps listening session. Five of our clients recorded short segments of their migration stories and experiences in their home countries. A few weeks after the recordings concluded, Atlanta staff came together to hear some of their stories. Many of us found our eyes brimming with tears listened to the stories of clients from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Burma. The hope and determination of these incredible people was humbling and inspiring. As I sat there in a room of LSG staff, I was reminded once again why we in Refugee and Immigration Services do what we do. We do it for new beginnings and the promise of a bright future. We do it for refugees.

Refugees matter. They comprise a small percentage of our immigrant population in the U.S. but it would benefit all of us to seek them out and form friendships with them. They work long hours at incredibly difficult jobs just to make ends meet. They are patriotic and proud to live in the U.S. They pay taxes and save money to open businesses in their community. They remind me of my own ancestors in many ways. My family is an eclectic mix of many different nationalities, most of whom immigrated to the U.S. to build a better life for their families. Some fled persecution, famine, or other difficulties. They worked hard to start fresh and to create their own 'American Dream.

We are a nation of immigrants, and refugees are a beautiful picture of what makes our country great. Amidst the busyness of life, the stacks of paperwork and the struggles that come from walking the journey with refugees during their first days in America, I am reminded of this picture. Refugees matter. They are an important part of our country, and I am so proud, humbled, and honored to know many of them.

If you'd like to get to know a refugee family, please contact me at LSG has multiple opportunities to support and learn from refugees. We'd love to have you join us in welcome.