World Refugee Day Recap & Resources
June 20th was World Refugee Day, a day designated by the United Nations to celebrate the bravery and strength of refugees around the globe. On June 28th, 2022, Fair Trade Campaigns hosted a free webinar in honor of the holiday with guest speakers Christine Gent, MADE51 World Fair Trade Organization Fair Trade Expert and Margo Wallace Druschel, fair trade campaigner and former worker at Minnesota Council of Churches Refugee Services Office in Mankato, Minnesota. As leaders in both the fair trade movement and the refugee advocacy space, they were the perfect pair to teach our network about the refugee crisis and how to support refugees across the world through fair trade advocacy.
During the call we learned there are an estimated 100 million displaced people across the globe with 26 million of them living as refugees. Despite the upheaval faced when forced to flee their homes and communities, refugees hold tight to their culture and traditions. This often includes incredible artisanal skills unique to their culture that have been passed down through generations. Christine emphasized that the fair trade movement needs to integrate refugees into global supply chains in ways that align with fair trade principles, uplift the importance of artisan products, and help refugee communities thrive. Organizations like MADE51 help refugees sell their artisan products both in their host countries and on a global scale through regional social enterprises that financially support their craft. Products sold through MADE51 are made in accordance with fair trade guidelines, promoting fairer wages and better working conditions for refugees.
As you can imagine, Christine and Margo are both confronted with emotionally taxing circumstances in their work. Margo explained that many refugees have difficult transitions from home country to host country. Whether that be from experiencing trauma in their home country, hardships during travel, and/or adjusting to life in their host country, emotional support is an integral part of helping refugees adjust to their new way of life. During her time at the Refugee Services Office, most of Margo’s team were former refugees themselves who were able to connect with and understand new refugees in a way no one else could.
The most important takeaway from the World Refugee Day virtual event was that anyone can aid refugees. Campaigners and advocates can partner with refugee aid clubs and organizations in their communities to volunteer, and host educational events and fundraisers. Individuals can also patronize businesses and non-profits that support refugees and fair trade principles. While the global refugee crisis can seem distant from our everyday lives, organizations like the Minnesota Refugee Services Office and Made51 show us that it is possible to positively impact refugees across the globe in your own community.