Catholic Charities Hosts 4th Annual Refugee Art Day

Photos by Luis Vazquez - Managing Editor, SA Sentinel.

June 18, 2019 - Southtown San Antonio

Article By: Luis Vazquez - Managing Editor, SA Sentinel

World Refugee Day is celebrated worldwide on June 20th 2019, but the Archdiocese of San Antonio’s Catholic Charities ministry started the celebration early with the 4th Annual World Refugee Day Art Event at Brick at the Blue Star Arts Complex in sunny Southtown San Antonio. Attendees were treated to beautiful artwork by talented refugee artists who live locally but hail from very diverse parts of the globe including Thailand, Cuba, Mexico and Iraq.

The night’s festivities included everything from Henna artists to international cuisine to a beautiful Eritrean Coffee ceremony. The art on the walls wasn't the only surprise waiting for attendees, as they could also could take part in an interactive simulation across five stations designed to give patrons a small glimpse into the daily journey of a refugee.

The first station of the refugee journey simulation. (Photo by  Luis Vazquez )

The first station of the refugee journey simulation. (Photo by Luis Vazquez)

At the first station, guests were given a board with spaces for sticky notes and were asked to write answers to questions such as these listed below:

  • “What kind of activities you enjoy?”

  • “What type of things are you thankful for?”

  • Who is important to you?”

  • “What roles do you play in your life?”

As attendees made their way through the stations’ various scenarios, they were asked to either pick items to remove from their boards or turn their boards over and remove items at random. The stations culminated at station five where tablets where queued up with real stories from refugees about their harrowing journey. As a participant, it was hard not be moved by these stories of perseverance and hope after learning about the extraordinary conditions that refugees endure to make it to safety when seeking asylum.

Elizabeth Ortiz. (Photo by  Luis Vazquez )

Elizabeth Ortiz. (Photo by Luis Vazquez)

“This is an opportunity for the community of San Antonio to learn about these artists, what they bring to our city, their stories for leaving home, and what their goals and passions are,” described Elizabeth Ortiz, Director of Education Programs for Catholic Charities.

The Catholic Charities Ministry at the Archdiocese of San Antonio is a non-profit resettlement agency that assists families or persons in need with housing, employment, education services, and life skills acculturation classes. “We want our families to be independent and successful,” said Ortiz. “So by doing that, we have to give them the tools to learn how to navigate the system independently.” The organization also offers English as a second language courses and resume building classes in addition to helping students apply for college.