Families, friends and community members gathered at Willow Park on Thursday evening to celebrate World Refugee Day.
People brought traditional dishes to share, from pupusas to samosas to curries and hummus. Children played with soccer balls while women in colorful clothing visited over their meals.
“This is just more than I could have dreamed of. So many fun people from the community, both the refugee community and the larger community and volunteers. It’s just amazing,” said Randy Williams, the vice president of the Cache Valley Refugee and Immigrant Connection, or CRIC.
World Refugee Day is celebrated yearly on June 20. Although there are events in Salt Lake City, Melissa Brimhall, CRIC’s volunteer coordinator, said individuals and families in Cache Valley cannot always make it to these, so the staff at CRIC decided it was time to host their own event in Logan.
“We are just hoping to build friendships and have a chance to celebrate outside of our normal, working programs,” Brimhall said. “A lot of the time when we are interacting with clients, it is to fix a certain problem or in class where there is a specific goal. This is just a really good time for us to share and celebrate with the people we work with.”
CRIC’s tagline is “community for everyone,” and Williams said the event was an example of that in action.
“There is room for all of us here,” Williams said. “There is room for all of us to become friends. There are opportunities for us to share food.”
Hamila Ali, a member of CRIC’s board and the local Somali community, said the celebration can help refugees feel more welcome in the valley.
“You know their identity and you feel welcome. You feel that Cache Valley is your home to be safe,” Ali said.
This is important, Ali said, because refugees from Somalia had to flee their homes and then spent time in refugee camps before coming to the United States. It has been a long time since many of them had a stable place of their own.
“That is why they are very excited today to see they are welcome and they can call here home,” Ali said.
Although this is CRIC’s first Refugee Day celebration, Williams said they have plans to make it an annual event.