Columbia celebrates World Refugee Day

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COLUMBIA - World Refugee Day was celebrated in Columbia Saturday.

The event attracted nearly 100 people to Broadway Christian Church for outdoor games, bounce houses, face painting, an international potluck and a showcase of dances and performances from different cultures.

"We're just here to support the kids and show them a good time - try to help them experience other cultures," said James Weaver, a volunteer. "It's important to show them we care and welcome them to America." 

The event also featured a resource fair to help refugees find local educational, health, and food assistance.

The event was a family affair for many of the attendees.

14-year-old Narjis Alhraishawi came to Columbia from Iraq in 2017. She said her favorite part of the event was trying different foods with her seven siblings and practicing English.

Catholic Charities Refugee & Immigration Services hosted the tenth-annual event to bridge the gap between the refugee population and local community.

"We want to raise awareness about refugees; how refugees get here, who the refugee community is here in mid-Missouri," Community Outreach Organizer Grace Wildenhaus said.

Throughout the year, the charity also offers resettlement and immigration assistance to refugees, asylees and migrants from foreign crises throughout the world.

In 2016, the organization helped more than 230 people from countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America settle into mid-Missouri.