Refugees celebrate first Thanksgiving in Society Hill

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Monday, November 19, 2018
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Refugees gather in Society Hill to celebrate their first Thanksgiving in America: Trish Hartman reports on Action News at 10 p.m., November 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Dozens of refugees celebrated their first Thanksgiving in the United States Sunday at the annual Refugee Thanksgiving Celebration in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia.

Organizers said this is the 10th year for the event and its needed now more than ever.

"I think it's one of the most beautiful celebrations," said Harinneb Chaural, a Venezuelan refugee. "Because it's about being thankful."

Kenneth Semusu came to the United States, and Philadelphia, from Uganda about two months ago.

"I'm so happy I'm going to try new food from different cultures, different traditions. I'm going to enjoy it," Semusu said.

The Old Pine Community Center was filled with volunteers and refugees who have come to this area over the past year.

The dinner was organized by HIAS Pennsylvania, a Jewish nonprofit that protects immigrants. Organizers say this year they put the meal together with new resolve.

"America is not the shooter at Pittsburgh Tree of Life. America is not the shooter at Twin Oaks. America is this," said HIAS PA Executive Director Cathryn Miller-Wilson.

Mayor Jim Kenney spoke about his own family's immigrant history and his desire to help other refugees.

"All native-born Americans are extremely lucky to have been born here. And thank God for our parents that we were," said Kenney. "Other folks need the opportunity to experience that same thing."

Organizers say this year asylum seekers were also invited because they had fewer refugees to invite than in past years.

Traditional turkey and stuffing was served. Guests also brought dishes from their countries for a little taste of home.


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