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Refugees giving back with fundraising dinner

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From left to right: Anne Mahon, Abdi Ahmed and Muuxi Adam are looking forward to raising awareness on National Refugee Day with Humankind International’s third annual fundraising dinner Fri., June 20.

JORDAN THOMPSON Enlarge Image

From left to right: Anne Mahon, Abdi Ahmed and Muuxi Adam are looking forward to raising awareness on National Refugee Day with Humankind International’s third annual fundraising dinner Fri., June 20. Photo Store

"Being a refugee is not an easy thing in life. You have no status. Everything about you makes no sense, everything about you doesn’t mean anything; you’re status-less. That’s what it means to be a refugee."

Muuxi Adam’s words shed light on the harsh reality facing millions of people struggling to survive in developing countries around the world. Some will escape their circumstances and find a home in Winnipeg, as Adam did when he left war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia in 2004 when he was just 16 years old.

Ten years later, he now calls Winnipeg home, speaks English fluently, and is a co-founder of Humankind International, which will hold its third annual fundraising dinner on June 20 — World Refugee Day — at the Masonic Temple (420 Corydon Ave.).

"It’s a bittersweet day because in one way, now you are settled and you can celebrate that, but also it’s a day to reflect that there are so many other lives that are still in camps, still lack the most basic of the basic," Adam said of World Refugee Day. "It’s a day to come together to commit ourselves to not forget those people who are still struggling, and who are still refugees. We need to make this world a better place so that so many people don’t become refugees."

Humankind International was born in 2008 after three Somali refugees — Adam, Abdirezak Adam and Abdi Ahmed — came together in Winnipeg to create a grassroots organization that would work towards improving conditions for people living in developing parts of the world.

Anne Mahon is one of a handful of Canadians who joined on with Humankind International to help with their efforts.

"It’s three former refugees from Somalia, and their Canadian friends, we call ourselves, and together over the past probably four years, we have raised funds with the sole purpose of building a school in the Dadaab refugee camp. And that purpose came true on Jan. 14, when the school opened," Mahon said. "So now we have ongoing costs, we have another camp that’s approached Muuxi and asked if we can build there — we don’t have the money right now — and also, on Jan. 14 there were 400 parents waiting in line, who all wanted their kids to go to the school, and there were no spaces.

"So we’ve really been pressuring ourselves to maintain, but also to grow, so that we can help all the others we know are right behind the kinds already in school."

Tickets for the dinner are $35 and all of the funds raised will go toward the ongoing upkeep of the school in the Dadaab refugee camp, and also to fund any of Humankind International’s future projects. The evening will also feature a presentation by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Carol Sanders, who recently visited the school.

"When you look at the issue of refugees, there are a lot of people who are displaced from their homes today," Ahmed, another co-founder of Humankind International, said. "There are over 20 million people who are displaced from their homes. Today, it’s happening in Iraq. Every day this is happening."

Ahmed immigrated to Winnipeg from Somalia in 2003, and lives here with his wife and two sons.

"Can you imagine leaving your own house with absolutely nothing, just thinking, ‘I am going to the unknown.’ With children, with no money in your pocket, just going. It’s mind-boggling, the kind of things refugees go through, it cannot be compared to anything."

Tickets to Humankind International’s fundraising dinner are still available and can be purchased by emailing Mahon at amahon@mts.net, or in person at the N.E.E.D.S. Centre at 251 Notre Dame Ave

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