Teens invited to spend a night like refugees

GENOA – Churches from Genoa, Kingston and Kirkland are planning a unique event for area teens to raise awareness about the plight of refugees.

“We took it by the horns and we’ve got six or seven churches working together to make it all happen,” said Mollie Hughes, one of the organizers of the Displace Me event for teens Aug. 11 in Genoa.

The event is loosely modeled on a 2007 event hosted in 15 cities that raised awareness about the difficulties of refugees in northern Uganda. There are almost 15 million refugees and 22 million displaced people worldwide, according to Hughes.

Participants are asked to bring a large cardboard box to sleep in that night, along with a sleeping bag or blankets, and warm clothes if needed. Teens should also bring release forms and a flashlight, but no electronic devices.

“The reality is, if there is a disaster, you lose your electricity and communication,” said Hughes, noting that even in the U.S. disaster can strike anywhere any time. Affected residents of a stricken area may have to live like refugees for days or even weeks.

“What would it be like if you had to flee from your home?” Hughes and other volunteers will ask during the evening of activities, music and a presentation from Bishop Augustine Mpemba, who was forced to flee from his home in Tanzania because of religious persecution.

Teens should eat before the event. No food is allowed “to give participants a realistic view of what it would be like to be a refugee,” according to a news release.

“We might have some games where they can win some crackers,” Hughes said.

Displace Me

6 p.m. Aug. 11-7 a.m. Aug. 12

312 Eureka St., Genoa



Registration deadline is July 21. For information or to register, call 815-954-9203 or email

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