Here's a fact for you to refry: Anaheim takes in more of the world's population seeking a safe haven than any other city in the county. Marking World Refugee Day, organizations, elected officials and members of the public will gather for an event at the Pearson Park Amphitheater.
Organized by the Refugee Forum of Orange County (RFOC), the evening's program is set to feature testimonies be it either by speeches, exhibited photography essays or art. Garden Grove school board member Bao Nguyen, a former refugee himself, will share duties in hosting the event. The delicious restaurants of Anaheim's Little Arabia are serving up a sponsored dinner as multicultural performances take place throughout the night.
Last year, 1,000 people turned out for World Refugee Day in Anaheim. This year, organizers are expecting to double the turnout.
Statistics provided by the Office of Refugee Resettlement noted that California took in roughly 10% of the 58,238 refugees entering the United States last year. Most flee out of fear of religious, political persecution, war and the disastrous effects of climate change. Despite the dire conditions prompting them to leave, many find success in their new country.
"When I first came to the United States as an Iraqi refugee, I didn't know what to expect," says Akram Ali in a press statement. "I invested the only money I had into a small auto part business and doing whatever it took to survive. I am proud to say that I am successfully contributing to the American economy by the expansion of my business and offering jobs to fellow refugees, so that they may do the same."
"[They] are becoming contributing citizens," says RFOC chair Nahla Kayali. "We urge [people] to celebrate and recognize their successes and accomplishments in Orange County on World Refugee Day."
World Refugee Day takes place at the Pearson Park Amphitheater, 401 N. Lemon St, Anaheim Sat., 5 – 8:30 p.m. Free. For more information, contact RFOC secretary Rida Hamida (714) 865-0276.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2