World Refugee Day 2019!
Pictured above: a refugee child within the L.A.C.E.S. program pauses for a photo during the annual L.A.C.E.S. Refugee Soccer Camp
A Crisis of Historic Proportions
Every two seconds someone around the world is being forced to relocate. Rising conflicts in parts of the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Africa are creating violent living conditions that have become uninhabitable for innocent bystanders. Currently, the number of men, women, and children being forced to flee their homes is the highest it has been since World War II. Today, more than 70 million people are displaced around the globe and the options available for them to live normal lives, if they are able to escape to safety, are slim. The situation is grave and the ongoing efforts of World Superpowers does not seem to be doing enough.
“…children were forced to flee and resettle while being (..) unaccompanied by an adult”
Current statistics and incoming data provided by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) state that over half of all refugees being forced to relocate around the world are vulnerable youth and children under the age of 18 years’ old. By the end of 2018, 111,000 of these children were forced to flee unaccompanied by an adult to help take care of them. Without the stability needed to thrive during their childhood years, refugee children are often the most susceptible to physical, emotional, and mental traumas that accompany displacement. Unfortunately, these children often fall through the cracks of societal institutions that should be helping and protecting them.
We Have HOPE!
Refugee children take a quick water break during last week’s Refugee Community Soccer Day at Cardozo High School in Washington D.C.
In the midst of such tragedy and crisis, caring men and women from all walks of life have chosen to take action and graciously welcome refugees into their communities and lives. We as an organization have been privileged and encouraged to have heard some amazing stories of deep empathy, empowering boldness, and selfless bravery from those willing to help.
“men and women from all walks of life have chosen to take action and welcome vulnerable refugees into their communities and lives.”
In Memphis, business owners have donated pieces of their household furniture to resettlement agencies in order to furnish the apartments of newly resettled refugee families. In New York, well-known photographers and bloggers have used their influence to share the plight and stories of vulnerable refugees. This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars being raised in support of the ongoing crisis. In Minnesota, local governments are making an important statement by recognizing and honoring outstanding refugee individuals with awards that highlight civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and youth leadership. We at L.A.C.E.S. believe that the ongoing work needs to be a collective effort and the momentum we are seeing all around the country inspires us!
L.A.C.E.S. Is Busy at Work
Children at last week’s Refugee Community Soccer Day got the chance to play games and enjoy a fun Saturday with their communities.
At L.A.C.E.S., we provide fun and constructive programs and initiatives that are outlets for refugee children which help them regain important aspects of a healthy childhood. So far this summer, L.A.C.ES. had the honor and privilege of co-hosting the Refugee Community Soccer Day at Cardozo High School in Washington D.C. This event was in partnership with incredible organizations such as One Journey Festival, D.C. United, District Sports and OnSide! It was a significant time that offered the opportunity for local refugee families to connect and engage with their communities.
Looking ahead this summer, we have exciting events planned to continue providing refugee children and their families with the support they need! These include our annual Refugee Soccer Camp taking place from June 24th-28th, the One Journey Festival happening on June 29th, our Adventure Camp starting on July 24th, and our four week partnership with the IRC (International Rescue Committee) in their Academic Camp starting on July 8th.
L.A.C.E.S. staff members are also involved in several new advocacy initiatives for this year’s World Refugee Day. These include attending the World Refugee Day 2019 Press Conference on Capital Hill and speaking live on NPR’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show. Our schedule is full and we are thankful for the opportunities in place to continue championing such a crucial cause!
L.A.C.E.S.’ Long Term Solution
Refugee children pose for a photo at the Refugee Community Soccer Day at Cardozo High School in Washington D.C.
At times, we at L.A.C.E.S. are asked how our programming is offering a solution needed in the lives of refugee kids and other at-risk children. A specific instance comes to mind when someone new to our work recently asked the question “So what? You just provide a meal and a chance for these kids to play sports, have fun, and receive mentoring? Is that effective at a long-term level?” Our answer… “YES!” And here’s why…
“…we understand that the work we are doing is an incredible resource and asset in changing the lives of children in need, forever!”
While refugee families from around the world have vital, physical needs that must be addressed (housing, food, income, etc.) their other necessities are often overlooked. The UNHCR has released several stories over recent years showing how men and women who are able to remain productive are also able to maintain a strong sense of dignity.
For children, the need to play and be active with their friends is crucial in helping them develop into healthy adults. At L.A.C.E.S., our programming provides children who have had their childhoods disrupted the chance to regain their self-esteem, find community, learn important life-values, and enjoy their childhoods. Through our research backed programs, we understand that the work we are doing is an incredible resource and asset in changing the lives of children in need, forever!
World Refugee Day Is EVERY Day at L.A.C.E.S.
Children at the Refugee Community Soccer Day at Cardozo High School in Washington D.C. wrap up the day by posing for a group photograph.
World Refugee Day is a significant time for the world to pause and reflect on the ongoing crisis happening. However, we at L.A.C.E.S. are dedicated in treating every single day with the same passion and drive to help children within this community. By utilizing volunteers, being responsible with our donated resources, and actively seeking new and innovative ways to serve, our organization is committed to continue adding positive solutions to the ongoing plight of refugee children. For more information on our work and to find out how you can be involved, click here!