UNCG hosted the beginning of the Unity 5k run Saturday on College Ave. The 5k was designed to raise money for the Islamic Center of the Triad Refugees Committee and ICT Homeless Shelter Project. The mission statement of the ICT “is to learn, practice and teach Islam, while contributing to the betterment of the City of Greensboro and the American society at large.”
At the event, coordinators spoke of how the Unity 5k was their first 5k, but not their last, as they intend to turn this event into an annual fundraiser as they anticipate the political climate limiting aid to refugees in the area will continue into the future.
This purpose of the run is to assist refugees in the Greensboro area, as Greensboro has been a designated refugee resettlement area for over 30 years through the US Refugee Admissions Program.
This is especially important after a devastating 120 day ban by Trump through executive order just ending in October, leading into his capping of refugee resettlement numbers at 45,000, an all-time low in the program’s history.
These policies also severely limited federal funding to multiple refugee programs in the area. The ICT Refugees Committee specifically is a nonprofit organization that aids and oversees over a 100 refugee families in the Triad who come from Africa and the Middle East. With the current limitations in federal funding and the political climate of right wing nationalism sweeping the country, it will only become more difficult for these programs to continue operating despite their vital nature to these new North Carolinians we have been welcoming to the area from around the world since the early ‘70s though multiple church sponsored programs, before Greensboro was even formally designated a refugee resettlement area by the federal government in the ‘80s.
The ICT Homeless Shelter Project is also being supported through funds generated by the Unity 5k.
Its purpose is to help provide assistance to homeless shelters in the area, an issue that in many ways is directly related to the issue of refugee resettlement. Those who come to Greensboro through a resettlement program are not always well taken care of or placed in good living conditions, due to a multitude of reasons, such as low funding and poor housing maintenance.
These problems are compounded for refugees who are especially vulnerable, like members of the LGBT community and those who are physically disabled or sick. This can lead to homelessness. While one aspect of the race seeks to eliminate many of the problems that might cause homelessness in the refugee population– through increased funding for the program itself–the other helps combat the immediate practical shortcomings of the underfunded resettlement programs, that now stand to benefit the entire population of homeless people in the area.
The Unity 5k began at 10 a.m. sharp, after a registration period from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The entry fee for adults was $25 and for children under 16, $20.
Overall, the 5k attracted around 40 participants. The 5k also raffled off some T-shirts and had a small trophy ceremony for the winners of the race.
Hernandez Carpet Cleaning, a local business, helped sponsor the event. After the trophy ceremony a special performance took place for all the participants, featuring Waheeb Nasan and Kareem Ibrahim from Chicago, musicians who advocate for peace and unity across all religions and races of the world and are popular on Youtube for their music videos talking about devastating situations in Palestine and Syria. Their most popular video, with a little over 900,000 views at the time of its premiere, is the cover of Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” (Palestine Version).