The Refugee Forum of Orange County (RFOC) hosted its annual World Refugee Day event on Monday, June 21. This event saw refugee youth shine as leaders as they empowered the attendees with insightful knowledge about the life of refugees. Through short documentary films, the 70 plus participants watched four refugee youth’s journey in America. The films showcased different aspects of their life such as being the only English speaker in the family, having to take on a range of responsibilities at a young age, cultural barriers that hindered their progress, recreating their traditions in America as well as highlighting the role of parents. An inspirational panel discussion ensued thereafter, which witnessed youth answered a range of questions provided by the audience. This was followed by a motivation speeches by guest speakers, Dr. Clayton Chau, Director of the Orange County Healthcare Agency and Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, our Mental Health Advisor. Dr. Chau and Sheikh Yassir, shared their past experience as refugee youth and what they learned through their journey. They applauded the resiliency and bravery showcased by the refugee youth and commended them on gracefully tackling their hurdles to meet their goals and dreams. The youth thanked Dr. Chau and Sheikh Yassir for their guidance and advice.
This event also hosted an Advocacy through Artful Expression session featuring two youngsters. One of the youth sang traditional Bangla songs and the other entertained the audience with a live guitar performance. The event ended with a raffle and a discussion among the audience on how they can support refugee youth succeed in their home country. This event was extremely heartfelt. It brought tears to the eyes of the audience, who virtually sat in awe, listening to these youngsters narrate their struggles. They applauded them on their academic achievements and cheered them on their graduation news. Most of these refugee youth hope to be future doctors and public servants as they would like to help their community. They also hope to be role models and support new arrivals adapt to their surroundings. The members of Refugee Forum of Orange County look forward to hosting many such events that honor the bravery and resilience of refugees and supporting them as rebuild their future in Southern California.