July 9, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Hundreds of smiling faces – including that of Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James – came out to Kansas City University on Saturday, July 9 to take part in World Refugee Day.
The celebration featured food, music, dance, and a panel discussion featuring six prominent figures in the refugee community. Hayay Abdullah, a Health Education Manager for Truman Medical Centers, is originally from Somalia herself and has more than a decade of experience working with international refugee families; Deki Yangzom spent 14 years in a refugee camp after fleeing Bhutan, and now coordinates the Bhutanese Knitting Group as part of the JVS Social Work Program; Karla Kuchenmeister is a retired KCPS administrator who has volunteered in a Syrian Refugee Camp in Hamburg, Germany; Steve Weitkamp serves as the Director of Refugee Services at Jewish Vocational Service (JVS); Passy Kabizo left war-torn Congo in 2001 as a 16-year-old, and has since founded an after-school program for refugees called the Immigrant and Refugee Academy; Maria Tutu resettled in Kansas City at the age of 11, went on to earn a double major in Economics and Finance at Park University, and now works as a Financial Advisor at Country Financial, where she helps refugees and others understand the tenets of financial planning.
The event was sponsored by a plethora of area organizations, including the Don Bosco Center, the Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center, Della Lamb Community Services, Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), The Northeast Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Public Schools, and of course Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.