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Tucsonans hear from refugees about their experiences

Posted at 5:43 PM, Mar 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-19 07:43:27-04

Tucsonans had the chance to learn more about the lives and struggles of refugees at the first "Walk a Mile in a Refugee's Shoes," event at the Tucson Jewish Community Center on Sunday morning. The event was hosted by the International Rescue Committee.

Participants had the chance to listen to a few speakers, including refugees. They also went through various simulations, each one was designed to illustrate certain challenges refugees may face while on their journeys. 

Some of those simulations included how refugee families often ration their food, are prone to water-borne illnesses on their journeys, education struggles they may run into, and also, one to show the size of the tents they often sleep in, in their refugee camps.

"People can go through to experience some of those barriers and hardships that refugees experience while they're having to leave their homes and escape from conflict," event organizer Nejra Sumic said.

Sumic is a former refugee herself. She and her family escaped Boznia and Herzegovina in 1992, during the Bosnian War. They re-settled in Spain for three years, then re-settled again in the United States.

"People are running away from violence and conflict," Sumic said. "They're not necessarily leaving their homes because they want to, but this is what they have to do, they have no other choice."

From October 2017 to February 2018, the United States has accepted 8,635 refugees into the country, and Arizona has accepted 327 refugees, according to the U.S. State Department.

Sumic hopes to have this event again, so more people will learn about life as a refugee.

"We want to bne a welcoming community to diversity, and to refugees," she said. "Especially after all of the hardships that they have experienced."