This World Refugee Day, we honor the resilient men, women and children around the world who have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety.
It’s not lost on us that the very existence of this day is a sign that things are not as they should be. And yet, in an unprecedented time in this global story and with conflicts escalating in some regions and continued unrest in others, we have been taken aback by the palpable hope and resilience of those who we are coming alongside. From the single father working hard to ensure his children have better opportunities than what were available to him, to the young mother determined to continue on with her education, to the elderly man on a journey of learning to read and write to fully immerse himself in his new home, we continue to be inspired by the vigor to build again after experiencing much calamity.
We recognize the complexity and courage found in the stories of those we are able to come alongside, and are honored to be on the receiving end to welcome, walk with, learn from, and celebrate those who now call Oregon home. Our communities are enriched by the presence of our newest neighbors.
According to the UNHCR, at the end of 2021, 27.1 million people were refugees worldwide. It’s a figure so large it’s challenging to imagine the sheer number of people whose lives have been so disrupted. Though it’s a temptation to think of those who are refugees as a monolithic group, the word, refugee, describes a circumstance that could affect anyone. The invitation on a day like this is to lean in and to learn from the diverse voices of people around the world who are now a part of our state and communities.
When we asked a friend and resettled community member what she thinks of World Refugee Day, she shared that this day of celebration gives her hope, because it highlights that those who are refugees are human beings. We could not agree more; our resettled friends are individuals worthy of love, care and support.
As we dream of a world where no one is forced to flee their home in search of refuge, we join our voices to honor our new neighbors and commit to coming alongside their journey of rebuilding.
Thank you for the many ways you have supported and championed our new neighbors; we are grateful for your support.