To help engage the public in response to the refugee crisis, which involves more than 65 million people worldwide, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) collaborated with the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church to co-host an information fair and film screening on May 20 in Takoma Park.
Ten humanitarian agencies participated in the community event providing attendees with information on how they can help serve refugees in Maryland and globally. The participating organizations were ADRA International, Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington, the Ethiopian Community Development Council, International Rescue Committee, KindWorks, L.A.C.E.S., Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, National Community Church, NOVA Friends of Refugees, and Sligo Church Refugee Support Ministry.
Attendees were also treated to, “baklava,” a tasty Greek and Middle Eastern pastry containing nuts and honey, and falafels, all made by a Syrian refugee who currently operates a successful catering company in Maryland.
Kate Stewart, mayor of Takoma Park, and Maryland State assemblywoman Jheanelle Wilkens spoke at the event recognizing the work of organizations and individuals who welcome refugees to the area and provide assistance around the world.
Wilkins presented ADRA with a state citation commending the work the humanitarian agency does on behalf of refugees and internally displaced people around the globe. Wilkens also presented a citation to Sligo church member Hannah Koilpillai for her volunteer work with the refugee resettlement programs at National Community Church.
To date, ADRA is working in 39 countries providing aid to refugees who have been forced to cross country borders under threat of persecution, conflict, and violence. ADRA has been helping refugees receive food, shelter, and hygiene kits.
“It is very inspiring for ADRA’s work supporting refugees to be recognized in this way by the State of Maryland,” said Imad Madanat, vice president for programs at ADRA International. “This plaque represents all of ADRA’s frontline workers and volunteers who work hard, even in the midst of danger, while demonstrating compassion and following Jesus’ example to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized.”
The event ended with a screening of the documentary film, “Human Flow,” which captures the perilous journey of refugee individuals and families over the course of a year in 23 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey. Viewers got an eye-opening look about the refugees’ desperate search for safety, shelter, and justice, and the courage it took to cross into the unknown.