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Respect, Safety and Dignity for All on International Day of Peace

By Luz María Frías, YWCA Minneapolis President and CEO
September 21, 2017
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“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.”

– Pope Francis

Remembering Millions Forced to Flee Homes

As a flurry of headlines inundate us on a daily basis, it’s difficult for many of us to continue to keep the plight of migrants and refugees at the forefront of our minds.

International Day of Peace is observed across the world on September 21. This year’s theme is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”

The International Day of Peace is intended to remind us of the millions of people around the world who are forced to flee their homes in search of a better life.

What Would You Do?

When I deliver trainings on immigration public policy, I often ask the audience to close their eyes and imagine for a moment the urgency to flee their homes in search of a better life as a result of personal safety concerns, government instability or war.

What would YOU do? 

How would you decide what personal belongings to take and leave behind?

Would you have the courage to venture forward not knowing:

  • If you would be safe?
  • If and when you would have your next meal?
  • Where you would sleep?
  • How to speak the language in a foreign land…living in a constant state of uncertainty about your economic future, your safety and stability.

If you are feeling uncomfortable and uneasy pondering these questions, this is but a small snippet of the trauma faced by refugees and migrants on a daily basis. As if that weren’t enough, our society often devalues and ignores their humanity as if to say that refugees and migrants are unworthy of our empathy because they are “less than” the rest of us.

Fortitude, Courage and Determination

Anyone who has spent time interacting with migrants and refugees understands the amount of fortitude, courage and determination in their journey. My life has been indelibly impacted by the life stories of the hundreds of migrants and refugees I’ve met along the way.

Learn More About International Day of Peace

On September 21, I invite you to reflect on the desperation that drives millions of people across the globe to flee the safety and stability of their homeland in pursuit of a better life, while asking yourself what YOU would do if faced with a similar set of circumstances.

I invite you to see their humanity as you read about their mass exodus from their homeland.