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Best Brooklyn Party Kicks Off World Refugee Day Celebration

Posted on June 13, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Zumba, Pop-Up Art, Friendship & Inspiration

What a fun, inspiring New York night filled with new New Yorkers from around the world! 

Kicking off an early celebration of World Refugee Day, a time celebrated across the globe to honor the strength and resilience of refugees, Catholic Charities helped host a huge free party in Brooklyn on Saturday, June 10, 2017. More than 320 of our clients and New York City neighbors shared music, food, and community during events spread over three floors of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope.  Spaceworks, CAMBA, HIAS, International Rescue Committee and Refugee and Immigrant Fund also joined with us to host the event.

“This event was born out of strong collaboration and mutual support from NYC refugee service providers, performers and artists,” said our Catholic Charities Director of Refugee Resettlement Kelly Agnew Barajas.  Kelly enjoyed the event so much she not only spoke at it but also brought her two sons to join the celebration. “We collectively thank all of you on behalf of refugees here and the world over for standing in solidarity and by showing your love through action.”

The Festival kicked off with family fun:
  • Live kids’ music
  • Interactive Brazilian folk drumming demonstration
  • Zumba dance-along
  • Face-painting
  • Crafts
  • Pizza for those hungry Zumba-dancing partyers

Next dozens of musicians from Syria, Ukraine, Nepal, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cuba and all over the world presented an evening of live music plus:

  • Experiential percussion room
  • Pop-up art gallery
  • Information booths with resources from resettlement agencies
  • Pot-luck dinner prepared by participants from around the world.
Check out more of Kelly’s inspiring words:

Even in these trying times, when welcoming refugees has become yet another flashpoint, their resilience and strength have continued to inspire.

The weekend of the travel ban, I met in Senator Schumer’s office with a Syrian family of six who had arrived only a month before to reunite with their family in the Bronx. However, at the time the first Executive Order was in effect and due to the indefinite ban on all Syrian refugee arrivals, the family saw little hope that they would see the rest of their family who were still being processed in Lebanon. That weekend there were many tears shed, but we promised to keep fighting and to keep hoping that there would be a way.

I am happy to report that the rest of the family arrived on June 6! Mom, dad, and four children.

We all must keep fighting for what we know is right – defending those who have been persecuted and are in danger because they are:

  • Journalists, artists, activists, or  member of the wrong political party
  • Coptics in Egypt, Falun Gong in China,
  • Hazara in Afghanistan, Rohingyas fleeing Burma,
  • Fleeing violence in Central America and seeking a life lived in peace.

Just a word about those of us who do this work: and for sure I am deeply proud of the work we all do.

The help that resettlement agencies provide is greater than the sum of all of its parts – it’s bigger than providing a refugee family with an apartment, bigger than getting someone a job, bigger than learning English, bigger than making sure that a kid is enrolled in school, than providing access to medical care, than proving something as simple as a toothbrush to someone who comes with nothing.

The work we all do provides hope, and it’s rooted in the values that we share.

Standing with refugees is not meant to be a controversial political statement. It’s a recognition of our shared humanity.

It’s about doing what’s right – with compassion and a sense of justice.

So a big “thank you” to all of you who … stand with refugees and keep up the momentum of welcoming new New Yorkers to our city. We stand firmly on our principles of love and justice.

And I want to challenge all of us -- all of us -- to advocate and keep this wonderful welcoming spirit alive in New York.

Missed our huge free Brooklyn party and want to join in the celebration?

Check out Catholic Charities Calendar of Events for more activities leading up to World Refugee Day’s official celebration on June 20, 2017.