Plaza Voices: World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day is an international day observed on June 20 of every year to raise awareness of the refugee crisis. This day is used to commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees worldwide.

The Denver Public Library will observe World Refugee Day 2020 with a series of virtual events:

Refugee 101 Information Session, Monday, June 22, 4-5 p.m.

Doc & Talk: Children of Syria, Wednesday, June 24, 5-6:30 p.m.

LitLine: Stories and poems about refugees will be available for one week starting Friday, June 19.

Read Aloud: A reading from "Inside Out and Back Again" and discussion will be posted on the Denver Public Library YouTube channel later this month. Just look for the Read Alouds playlist!

 

Poem by Naghem S.

Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there.

We left in the middle of the night.
 My mother and I. One of my uncles went with us too.
“To keep you safe, habibti” is what he said.  
“But what about your baby?” 
“She will be okay.  Her mama is with her.”

Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there.

My grandpa stood still. Looking at my mother.
He hugged and held her up as she cried. The loudest cries I have ever heard.
“Stay safe, habibti. Keep her safe” is what he said.
“Don’t make me leave. I can’t leave.”
“Leave. If you want to see him again you have to leave”

Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there.

My auntie kissed me goodbye. Her tears were salty.
She cried as she put a necklace around my neck.
“To keep you safe, habibti” is what she said.
“But what about you? Will you come with me?”
“No, but say hi to my brother for me. Tell him that I love him.” 

Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there.

My uncle wouldn’t look me in the eye.
That hurt until he kissed me goodbye. He was the last to say goodbye.
“Stay safe, habibti” is what he said.
“Are you mad at me? Please don’t be mad at me.”
“No I’m not mad. Just don’t stop calling me baba.” 

Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there.

The man who took us away was mean. He kicked me when I cried.
I cried a lot.
“Shut up or I will throw you out the car” is what he said.
“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there.”
“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “

“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “
“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “

Was that mama or me saying that? I don’t know anymore.

“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “
“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “

The man drove for a really long time.The road was really bumpy 
The blanket covering me was thick. It was hard to breathe.
“To keep you safe, habibti” is what mama said as she covered me with the blanket.
“But it’s hot and my back hurts “
“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “

“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “

I don’t remember when we came to the new place.
The people looked like me but they didn’t sound like me.
“We need to stay safe, habibti” is what my uncle said.
“We are not safe yet?”
“Not yet, but you will be”

“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “

We stayed in that new place for a little bit before we had to leave
My mother and I. My uncle didn’t come with us.
“To keep you safe, habibti,” is what he said.
“Why aren’t you coming?
“To keep you safe, habibti.”

“Don’t cry. Don’t scream. Be quiet. We are almost there. “

The plane made me sick.
My mother cried a lot.
“We are going to be safe” is what she said.
“We’re going to be safe?”
“Yes but only if you don’t cry, don’t scream. You have to be quiet. We are almost there.” 
 

 

To learn more about refugees and other people who have been forcibly displaced, please see this infographic, and check out these books, available as ebooks from the Denver Public Library:

The Girl Who Smiled Beads- Clemantine Wamariya 

Sea Prayer- Khaled Hosseini

Call Me American- Abdi Nor Iftin

Love Thy Neighbor- Ayaz Virji, M.D. and Alan Eisenstock

The Best We Could Do- Thi Bui

Homes: A Refugee Story- Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

 

Plazas are an open community space where migrants from all over the world connect with people, information, and resources, building Denver’s global community. To ensure the health and safety of our community, all Denver Public Library locations and Plaza programs are currently closed. We are still offering online English conversation groups, citizenship study, and appointment services. Please see our web page for more information.

Written by Plaza Voices on June 11, 2020