Every year on June 20, over 100 countries worldwide observe the United Nations’s World Refugee Day to honor refugees’ strength and resilience and celebrate those who are now resettled and part of our communities and neighborhoods. But World Refugee Day is just one way we celebrate and support our refugee neighbors. Here are 5 more ways you can continue to support refugees beyond World Refugee Day.
Volunteer to be a mentor!
You can help new refugees and refugee kids integrate into their new lives in Pittsburgh by becoming a mentor. You can work with families to teach cultural orientation and English language skills to newer refugee families. Or you can sign up to be a mentor with kids during the school year, helping with homework and life lessons that will improve their school experience. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can get involved!
Support local refugee- and immigrant-owned businesses
In Pittsburgh, there are over 5000 immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs with restaurants, convenience stores, artisan shops, and more. Check out this list of immigrant-owned restaurants and markets we’ve put together, and check out our marketplace for artisans from World Refugee Day.
Speak up about policies that impact refugees & immigrants
Policies surrounding refugees and immigrants in our country are changing on a regular basis. The good news is that your voice can have an impact! If you aren’t sure how to keep up with these policies, a few organizations that regularly update the public about policies are the HIAS, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Vera Institute, and Immigration Advocates Network. Contact your local representatives and government officials through letters, emails, and phone calls to discuss your opinions and comments on policy changes.
Get to know your refugee & immigrant neighbors
Many of us have refugees and immigrants living in our own neighborhoods. Take time to get to know your neighbors, including your refugee and immigrant neighbors! This stay-at-home period is a great time to reach out to your local community, bring meals to people, offer assistance, and even do porch visits where you can learn more about the people who live next door. You’d be surprised at what you can learn from listening to stories of the refugees and immigrants on your own street!
Educate yourself about refugees
If you’re not sure where to start or don’t feel equipped to do any of the steps above, just start by educating yourself. Learn about who refugees are, where they come from, what situations led them to leave their homes, and what process it takes to come to the US. You can also take time to learn about their cultures, languages, and people–making it easier to bridge relationships with your refugee neighbors. One place you can start is with food! Check out our growing food blog featuring recipes from refugees and immigrants here in Pittsburgh.
These are just some of the many ways you can support refugees, even though World Refugee Day is over. Our refugee and immigrant neighbors bring culture, value, and life to our communities, and we want to celebrate them every day!