Sioux Falls Residents Walk in the Footsteps of a Refugee

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- June 20th is National Refugee Day. People all over the world are honoring refugees for the difficulties they’ve faced after being forced to leave their home country because it was too dangerous. Lutheran Social Services had their own celebration in Sioux Falls where people were able to experience what it’s like to be a refugee.

People stepped into the role of refugee and went through a simulation to see what it’s like to really be one. It was inspired by real life experiences and many refugees volunteered to help with the event to make it seem as realistic as possible.  

Participants started in their homeland, then were put in a refugee camp, then transferred to a host country.

A language barrier is one of the many challenges refugees face and was something Sifa Abya struggled with. She is a refugee from Tanzanya and volunteered to help people understand what her and other refugees have been through.

“It’s hard to live in the camps that you don’t have food, you don’t have anything to eat, you don’t have clothes, you’re suffering,” said Abiya .

“The majority of refugees that we work with here in Sioux Falls have been in camps anywhere upwards of five to 30 years, so it’s a welcome to them , it’s to pay respect to those folks as well as those who have not yet made it to freedom,” said Tim Jurgens, Director of Refugee Services at Lutheran Social Services.

“I’m so glad that the people of Sioux Falls are so supportive of the project,” said Clara Hart, Refugee and SD Representative/ Board Chair For The National Refugee Congress.

People who went through the simulation say they felt the anxiety and feel they can now better empathize with refugees.

“I think the biggest lesson for me is that these are real people and these are people’s real lives and they are doing something incredibly difficult and incredibly brave and it breaks my heart to think about the way they are treated,” said Green.

Since 2002, around six thousand refugees have come to Sioux Falls from 32 countries.


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