BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Saturday is World Refugee Day, a global celebration of the successes of refugees around the world.
It is also a way to raise awareness of the challenges they've faced as they try to live a better life.
"We are doing this celebration every year to recognize this day, which is the day I was a refugee. I came from Iraq in 2008," said Ali Kadhum. He's a refugee who is now a mental health counselor at Best Self.
Kadhum described Iraq as a war zone. He was forced to leave, to get a chance at a better future for him and his children.
He had no choice but to leave, and ended up coming to Buffalo.
"I've been here about 12 years in Buffalo and I didn't change it. We have a beautiful community here, the people is very understanding culture and diversity, they are welcoming to immigrants and refugees," he said.
"They're coming to Buffalo to build a new life and a rich life. There's a real recognition in the community right now that immigrants and refugees make us culturally stronger and make our communities, our economies much richer as well," said Lauren Maguire with International Institute of Buffalo.
Because of COVID-19 the celebration had to be done virtually, with different people sharing something about their unique culture.
Another virtual event organized by The Center, Utica is a virtual walk/run called A Walk in their Words.
You can join in no matter where you are. Through donations this virtual even will raise funds to support local agencies and refugee resettlement agencies across New York State.
"Home to many refugee families we're proud to raise awareness and celebrate the great contributions of our refugee community locally, statewide and globally," said Mayor Byron Brown.
"Great people around you always to support and help, and to help you not feeling homesick about your country," said Kadhum.