June 20 is World Refugee Day, when people from around the world are supposed to take some time to try to understand what refugees go through when they leave a country and seek refuge in another.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are 25.4 million refugees around the world, more than half of whom are under 18, and more than 44,000 people a day are forced to leave their homes because of conflict and persecution. Nearly 25,000 refugees resettled in the United States in 2017.
Winnie Bulaya, who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo and took refuge in Kenya for about 12 years before coming to the United States in 2010, said she struggled at first coming to a new continent, and she couldn’t talk about the war that forced her to leave her home country without tearing up.
When she’s not working as a janitor at IUPUI, Bulaya spends much of her spare time helping others who are transitioning to a new life in America, and she still sends some money from her tax returns back to the Democratic Republic of Congo to support the construction of a church. But she added actions mean more than money.
“It’s not about the money,” Bulaya said. “Even with a little, you can do something big to help someone.”
This year’s theme for World Refugee Day is “Step with Refugees,” where people can walk or run and count their miles toward a global total at stepwithrefugees.org. The UN Human Rights Council’s goal is to get to 1 billion miles. Participants can create fundraising pages to encourage friends and family to participate, or they can donate directly.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.