Refugees celebrated in Memphis - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Refugees celebrated in Memphis

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World Refugee Day is Friday, June 20, and events are being held around the world, including Memphis. (Source: WMC Action News 5) World Refugee Day is Friday, June 20, and events are being held around the world, including Memphis. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
The Keene family is about the welcome 16-year-old Yaroslav, 15-year-old Raya, and 13-year-old Kolya to Memphis. (Source: Helen Keene) The Keene family is about the welcome 16-year-old Yaroslav, 15-year-old Raya, and 13-year-old Kolya to Memphis. (Source: Helen Keene)
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) - World Refugee Day is Friday, June 20, and events are being held around the world, including Memphis.

Memphis currently receives 200 to 250 refugees each year. Most of them flee from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan.

The Keene family of Bartlett works hard to keep a blog about their efforts to bring three Ukrainian orphan teens to stay with them for the summer.

Bringing the teens to Bartlett has been a dream come true for the Keenes.

The balloons on their mantle are there to celebrate the soon-to-come immersion of 16-year-old Yaroslav, 15-year-old Raya, and 13-year-old Kolya into Memphis culture for the next few months.

The Keenes are part of a nonprofit group called Project 143. The group brings children from orphanages all over the world to the Mid-South for six to eight weeks each summer and winter.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for the kids to experience life in a normal family environment. They get to escape orphanage life," Helen Keene said.

Keene says the three teens are orphaned Ukrainian refugees.

"The country right now is going through lots of turmoil, political unrest, economical," she added.

Keene is proud that Memphis is becoming more of an international city willing to accept those who've fled their country as a result of persecution.

Throughout the weekend, refugees will have a chance to dine at local restaurants, perform local dances, and even watch Team USA play Sunday in the World Cup.

"Throughout our experience, when we've reached out to church and family, people are willing,  and their hearts are being opened, and I think Memphians have a big heart," Keene explained.

There are events throughout the city that will take place through the weekend to celebrate World Refugee Day.

Click here to check out some of the events: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=1fbd592a7dff9f46207ab95b8&id=76259747b6&e=957564e501

To learn more about World Refugee Day, click here: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wmctv/refugeeday.pdf

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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