This is Cindy Wu, one of the Board members of Abba’s House. My family has been attending World Refugee Day for years, as visitors but also as volunteers. By attending WRD Houston, we have gained a deeper understanding of how refugees are part of our Houston community. What follows is a marketing article I edited for this year’s WRD Houston event. It will give you insight into why we celebrate refugees. I hope to see you there!
World Refugee Day was established in 2001 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to honor the courage, strength, and determination of men, women, and children who are forced to flee their homes under the threat of persecution, conflict, and violence. The mission of World Refugee Day Houston is to raise awareness, honor refugees, and show gratitude to the many Houstonians who have welcomed refugees for more than 40 years.
The Houston Refugee Consortium honors refugees at the annual World Refugee Day Houston event, established in 2003 and hosted in partnership with the City of Houston, UNHCR, and many community organizations. The Consortium is a partnership of six organizations serving refugees in Houston: the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, Bilingual Education Institute, Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston, Interfaith Ministries, Refugee Services of Texas, and YMCA International Services.
Since 1978, over 70,000 refugees from 78 countries have called Houston home. For the past few years, Houston has held the distinction of being America’s #1 resettlement city, welcoming more refugees than any other city in the United States. In fact, the Houston Chronicle recently reported that if Greater Houston were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest receiving state.
Our largest refugee populations are of South Asian (especially Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Burmese) and eastern African (especially Somali and Ethiopian) origin. Last year almost 3,000 refugees resettled in the Houston area, the majority of them from Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and, increasingly, Syria.
Refugees contribute to our city in many ways. They are restaurant owners, politicians, community activists, teachers, and more. The men, women, and children who have come to Houston to rebuild their lives are part of the cosmopolitan fabric of our great city, contributing to our success through their resilience and grit. For this reason, we honor and celebrate them on World Refugee Day.
This year’s event will be held at Levy Park on Saturday, June 17 from 4 – 7 pm. Visit the event website for more information at: http://www.worldrefugeedayhouston.org/.