This past fall, I was the site leader for the Human Rights & Refugees Alternative Weekend Break located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Amy Wylie, the executive director of education at ONErefugee, came in to speak with our group shortly before our trip. ONErefugee is a non-profit organization that works closely with students of refugee status to help them to thrive. Currently, they have 414 scholars from 28 different countries. It was eye-opening to hear about the variety of obstacles students often have to face. The data she presented was also something to think about. 74,602 refugees were admitted into the US in 2009. In 2019, that number will be capped at 30,000.
We worked with some absolutely incredible community partners over the weekend, but one of the most memorable for me was our experience with the East African Refugee Goat Project. It's one of many organizations that are part of the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid group. The Goat Project, run by local refugees, is a farm located just west of the airport. As a llama curiously peers over the fence, the coordinator jokingly notes, "That's just our guard llama, Yolanda." The mood is light, but there's no question that a lot of hard work goes into keeping this farm going. The Goat Project is one of the few sources of halal goat meat in Utah. Not only that, but the farm is also a source of employment and unity for the communities involved in tending to these goats.
Before this trip, I had spent months researching organizations that correlated with the trip theme. There is a lot to be learned from scanning articles and reading the "About Us" tabs, but there is something indescribably valuable in learning from the organizations themselves. This Alternative Break has shown me that there is so much that still needs to be done in our very own community, but it has also shown me that there is so much we have done. It has shown me that there is so much we are able to do.