On June 20, the NAC community came together for our annual celebration of World Refugee Day. We were honored to be joined by our distinguished guests, Massachusetts Senator Brendon Crighton, State Representatives Pete Capano and Daniel Cahill, Marven Hyppolite from U.S. Representative for MA Seth Moulton’s office, Mayor of city of Lynn, Thomas McGee, Lisa Rafonelli and Jason McGrath, Regional Senior Advisors from Office for Refugees Resettlement, Mary Truong, Executive Director of MA Office for Refugees and Immigrants and Representative from MA Attorney General Maura Healey office Yarlenny Villaman, whose remarks included those of welcome and support of our refugee community, as well as the sharing of their own stories of their immigrant parents and grandparents. We were treated to traditional songs and dances performed by our clients and enjoyed seeing video clips of our children’s program in action.
This year, we are also grateful to our Eritrean clients who educated us about their commemoration of Eritrean Martyrs’ Day also on June 20, and who shared their tradition of lighting a memorial candle during our event. Special thanks to our dear friend, Gebrehewitt Abay, who talked about his experience as a refugee and explained the significance of Martyrs’ Day, which honors the memory of those who lost their lives during the many years of conflict in Eritrea. A new dimension was added to our celebration of Refugee Day, as everyone in the audience could relate to his remarks, which applied not only to his country, but to the many places around the world from which refugees have fled.
The day ended with our feeling a renewed appreciation for the courage of our refugee clients and the importance of spreading awareness of their situation, both here and worldwide.