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By Mary Kate Nolan
Hometown Weekly Intern
On Tuesday, June 20, local activists braved the unrelenting heat to publicly observe the United Nations’ World Refugee Day. While its origin dates back to the 1950s, World Refugee Day has taken on renewed significance in light of the present-day Syrian Refugee Crisis.
These activists were responding to the call of the United Nations, which states that “In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.”Their particular stand lasted an hour and a half on the Walpole Common, with signs that both welcomed refugees and highlighted the plight of those fleeing their war-torn homelands.
The vigil was organized by the Walpole Peace and Justice Group, which has been around since 1981. Also present were members of the Wrentham Lake Huddle Group, an organization oriented toward many of the same values as the Walpole group.
Peace and Justice member Philip Czachorowski called international governments to action, saying “Each country needs to stand up and do their part to accept refugees,” and insisting that “our country is not doing enough.”
Czachorowski and another participant, Elitsa Molles, both emphasized that refugees are forced to leave their homes and families by the dangerous circumstances of their native lands. They asked people to “be more open to refugees” and more responsive to their needs. Molles lamented that often refugees “are seen as a burden rather than as a resource.”
The small group of dedicated individuals received periodic encouragement from passers-by in the form of honking and thumbs up. What one might not have been able to see out the car window, however, was the passion and energy that united this group in their genuine effort to make the world a more welcoming place.
While their message is global and demands great action from world leaders, these individuals recognized that activism begins at home with the change of a heart or the honk of a car horn.