IRC in Baltimore Commemorates International Human Rights Day
Juan Webster, as Director of Rooms at Sheraton Baltimore City Center, has nurtured the potential in his refugee employees by taking the time to train and support them as they adjust to work life in this country. Juan did not view the fact that refugee applicants often have limited English and are new to this country as barriers to their being successful employees. His dedication and patience have paid off. One refugee staff member, for instance, has been named employee of the month two times in the past half year.
When we think of human rights, the first thing that comes to mind is dictatorial governments in foreign lands denying their citizens basic liberties. Yet many everyday Baltimoreans like Juan are supporting the human rights of refugee community members and employees by helping them earn a living, integrate in their community, and have their basic healthcare needs met. Refugees, who have been dehumanized by war or their own government, can develop to their full potential only with the help of people like Juan.
To recognize the outstanding efforts of Baltimore residents like Juan Webster, on December 6th, 2012, the IRC Baltimore hosted its first annual International Human Rights Day event. On that evening, the Creative Alliance welcomed refugees, human rights advocates and friends of the International Rescue Committee from throughout the Baltimore area. In an event designed to inspire reflection on the collective commitment to promoting human rights in our community, IRC in Baltimore recognized its critical partners and joined the community together to celebrate the plethora of work being done locally to promote human rights.
The diverse audience included government officials, local employers, representatives from partner agencies, and other community members. Following a reception, those in attendance heard from several speakers who promote human rights in an assortment of ways and also viewed a short video illustrating the IRC’s work throughout the world. We heard moving speeches from Ruben Chandrasekar, IRC in Baltimore’s Executive Director and Meena Darjee, a Bhutanese refugee whose work with the disabled has helped innumerable youth from refugee camps in Nepal to Baltimore’s Baer School for disabled students.
Sakoja Kondorka, a refugee from Darfur, played guitar and sang in his native Fur. Sakoja, along with fellow Darfuri refugees who joined him on stage, succeeded in getting everyone in attendance on their feet as they danced to the irresistible charm of the music.For exceptional contributions to the human rights of refugees in our community, members of the IRC Baltimore’s staff personally gave awards to the following individuals: Carol Bishop (long-time volunteer and advocate), Gloria Jenkins (community member and coordinator at the Goodnow Community Center), Juan Webster, Dr. Husham Gabralla (dentist providing pro-bono dentistry services) and Officer Hosein Kern (outstanding community liaison, Northeast District of Baltimore City Police Department).
We are grateful to all those who came and look forward to hosting you again next year.