World Refugee Day 2016: Solidarity, Soccer, and Song

Milwaukee joined the international humanitarian community in recognizing World Refugee Day 2016 at Pere Marquette Park. Highlights included cultural performances, ethnic food, keynote speakers from Syria, Congo, Burma, and the US,  followed by a championship match between top refugee soccer teams.

Wisconsin Department of Children & Families sponsored the event Milwaukee World Refugee Day 2016, in partnership with Neighborhood House of Milwaukee, UMOS, International Institute of Wisconsin, Lutheran Social Services, andCatholic Charities.

“Milwaukee has a rich history of welcoming newcomers, and Neighborhood House is proud to be part of that tradition by co-sponsoring an event that celebrates our common humanity,” says Neighborhood House Executive Director Jeff Martinka. “World Refugee Day acknowledges the contributions and resilience of those among us  who are rebuilding their lives here after fleeing violence in other countries.” Neighborhood House International Learning Center Instructors Eric Howald and Patrick Rich took the lead in organizing this year’s event and soccer tournament. Photos  shown here are courtesy of ILC volunteer David Lauersdorf.

Speakers included Mayor Tom Barrett, Rep. Daniel Riemer, and State Refugee Coordinator Mette Brogden. Dr. Tarif Bakdash, author of recently published memoir, spoke about the current refugee crisis in Syria, and Nicole Ndanda spoke powerfully about her experiences as a refugee in Africa. Performers included refugees from African drumming, singers from Karen State,  Dance Academy of Mexico / Academia de Danza Mexico .

Team One World took the trophy in the World Refugee Day Soccer Tournament’s final championship match at South Stadium. As soccer enthusiast Michael Da Silva, an immigrant from Nigeria reflected, “All this war and everything that is going on in the world now – this is a way for everyone to come together, because we just forget about our differences and just put it aside and be one, at least for 90 minutes.”

Press Coverage of Milwaukee’s 2016 World Refugee Day includes:

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