Clarkston builds soccer field for refugees

Children from Refugee Community of Clarkston, Georgia are given the opportunity to play soccer on the new field built through the non-profit organization F.R.E.E. // Photo courtesy of HWPL ATL

Whether it’s the mass displacement of the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, the presidential crisis in Venezuela forcing relocation for millions, or the decade of civil war creating unstable living conditions for Syrian citizens, the global refugee crisis is one that demands attention and allocation of resources.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profits have been instrumental in assisting individuals with refugee status in regards to obtaining legal aid for asylum applications and supporting them throughout the transitionary period. As such, one NGO recognized by the United Nations ECOSOC with a chapter operating not far from Tech’s campus is HWPL-Atlanta.

The organization is dedicated to the cessation of war and in correspondence with the non-profit, Friends of Refugees Providing Education and Empowerment (F.R.E.E.), hosted a community-building event for the Refugee Community of Clarkston, Georgia.

About 20 children part of the Clarkston refugee community participated in building a soccer field, which will be used primarily by the community for future games and events. The children also received a seminar pertaining to “My Value, My Influence, and My Duty,” by the HWPL Atlanta’s Peace Education Team to cement values of cooperation, peace-building, and individual impact.

Organizations like HWPL and F.R.E.E. understand the importance of engaging the youth of refugee communities in activities that highlight aspects of community, trust, leadership, and team-work.

Specifically, HWPL’s impact transcends the metro-Atlanta area as they’ve signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with 214 organizations in 36 countries within the past two years.

Man Hee Lee, the chairman of HWPL, echoes the organization’s mission of cultivating peaceful societies and emphasizes, “Let us fulfill this duty by putting in concerted efforts into the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) to be implemented as international law to achieve true peace across the globe.”

Aside from peace legislation, HWPL has also created an alliance of religions to support interfaith dialogue on the cessation of war as many conflicts resulting in mass displacement are catalyzed by religious and political turmoil.

F.R.E.E. has expanded efforts since the organization’s development in 2010; they host outreach events and offer assistance in terms of organizing medical and legal guidance for refugee families.

The culmination of institutional dysfunction, military intervention, mass relocation, and acclimation to a new country is difficult for any individual to go through, but it can be exceptionally taxing on children in their formative years.

Community-building initiatives help restore a sense of autonomy to refugee children as they take ownership of their final product and cooperatively engage with other children, who share the experiences that have shaped their worldview.

With a large international student population and a diverse community, Tech’s campus is not far removed from the refugee crisis.

For students interested in volunteering their time and services, F.R.E.E. has opportunities for engagement in Clarkston on their website.