'Refugees Welcome' dinner hopes to spark conversation about stigmas
Posted November 27, 2016
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Hundreds of Syrian refugees live in North Carolina and a special dinner was held Sunday evening for immigrants and refugees concerned about their future as President-Elect Donald Trump transitions into the White House.
The meal was like one big family enjoying each other’s company and kicking off the holiday season, but the gathering had a very serious message- refugees are welcome.
"There's so much more required of us than tolerance. I think that, fundamentally, our task is to realize that we're one," one attendee said.
The owner of Vimala’s Curryblossom Café and Church World Service teamed up to host the event. Just like any family gathering, they’ve got music, food and activities for children.
They also discussed building relationships between the local community and refugees and immigrants. They said the event is largely in response to the stance Trump has taken on those particular issues.
Trump has said in the past that he would suspend immigration from Syria and Libya. The people at Sunday’s event want just the opposite.
“In this country, we all know that people want to know where you’re from,” said Vimala’s Curryblossom Café owner, Vimala Rajendran. “Let’s make that question okay, as long as we can believe that as long as we’re here, we all belong.”
Rajendran said she came to the United States 36 years ago and people still ask her where she's from.
The idea behind Sunday's dinner was to bring the local community and refugees together, provide lively music, a warm meal and extend a welcoming hand. For one couple, who had a personal connection to the dinner's message, that meant providing donated clothing.
Organizers said they hope the event will serve as a model for other restaurants and organizations to show welcome to newly arriving refugees, who "endure harmful stereotyping, suspicion and xenophobic policy."