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World Refugee Day celebrated by Rochesterians as they work to learn more about each other

Sadiya Omar
Stephanie Ballard
Sadiya Omar, Vice President and co-founder of Refugees Helping Refugees

Monday is not only the federally-designated holiday for Juneteenth, it is also World Refugee Day.

That is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe.

The celebrations locally began on Saturday, with festivities held at Barakah Muslim Charity on Jefferson Avenue in Rochester.

The Western New York organization, Refugees Helping Refugees, worked to organize this past weekend’s event, and one of its co-founders, Sadiya Omar, said that one outcome they are hoping for is for people in the refugee community and other local residents to get to know each other better.

“So that the people in the community get to know them, and they get to know the people in the community, to show how strong we are. Not only that we are refugees,” said Omar. “We are strong and we just want to show the appreciation of being here as well.”

Omar is a refugee herself. She is native of Somalia, who fled the civil war in that country in the 1990s, and became an advocate for women and girls in refugee camps.

Mawia Sakaly
Stephanie Ballard
Mawia Sakaly, an organizer of a celebration in Rochester for World Refugee Day

Another organizer of Saturday’s celebration, Mawia Sakaly agreed that events like these help Rochesterians learn more about each other.

“We are hoping that this could be an opportunity for the community to get to know and celebrate all of the refugees that have been welcomed into the city of Rochester as well as just celebrate our contributions in the community,” said Sakaly.

The organization Refugees helping Refugees began in 2002 to help Somali refugees in the region, but it has expanded the scope of its services since it was founded.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.