To commemorate World Refugee Day, the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (CARE) and Catholic Social Services held their third annual simulated Refugee Camp in the City on Wednesday at Central MIddle School.
People who attended the event were asked to take on the identity of a refugee.
By the afternoon the Refugee Camp in the City had been attended by approximately 650 people, mostly Grade 3 to 9 students from area schools, said Jan Underwood, CARE public awareness co-ordinator.
Over 45 volunteers helped make the event a success.
Deb Weidenhamer, CARE volunteer, ran the shelter unit in the pretend Zibandu Refugee Camp of 100,000 people who had fled Somalia.
“The kids are being receptive,” she said.
“This is going to ingrain in them some of the horrible situations in our world.”
“This is good for them and it is a great experience,” agreed Gateway Christian School (Central) Grade 3 teacher John Kranenborg.
“We talk about quality of life in Grade 3 and the fact that not everyone lives the same as we do.”
“I would be sad if I had to live here (in a refugee camp)” said Grade 3 student Morgann Brewster.
“I was surprised that so many people come to one place because they are kicked out of their homes.”
Over 42 million people, more than the population of Canada, live in refugee camps. Most have limited amounts of water for drinking, washing and cooking, dire food supply issues, problems with diseases and outlying dangers around the camp.
“We are trying to bring awareness of this and also remind people that Canada is a land of hope for thousands of people,” said Catholic Social Services settlement councillor Carlos Gardella, who left Chile six years ago.
Masiha Mohseni, 44, came to Red Deer a year and a half ago. She was running the health unit at the camp with students from the Red Deer College’s nursing program.
The simulated exercise was once a reality for Mohseni who fled Afghanistan to work as a medical doctor at a refugee camp in Pakistan.
“I was living in the camp at the hospital,” she said. “There were places for medical personnel because we were safer there than other places.
“But life is better here.”