World Refugee Day isn't until June 20th but the celebrations kicked off early in Burlington.
It was a long journey for Noel Mukiza to get to this game of volleyball, in this park, in Burlington. Before now he lived as a refugee and never belonged anywhere. That has changed.
"Right now I'm a US citizen, I'm really proud to be belong to a nation, to belong to a country, and very soon I'm going to vote for my first time. That's the freedom I was talking about." said Mukiza.
He came to Vermont from Burundi in December of 2007. He is one of the many refugees celebrating United Nations World Refugee Day.
"Life is so hard in the refugee camps, so you come here you know that life is going to change towards the positive." said Mukiza.
The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program hosted hundreds Saturday in Burlington. From tug-of-war games, to face painting, to soccer match ups, it was a time of joy. Volunteers say it's hard to imagine everything these people have been through.
Judy Scott of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program explains, "It's very hard for those of us like me who were born in this country to understand what it would be like if your home, all of your possessions, and even family members were taken from you. If you were forced to leave and never go back."
A harsh reality that many refugees face. And one Vermont company wanted to lend a helping hand.
Stephanie Bertoni of Danform Shoes told us Saturday, "They've come so far and they had nothing when they arrived here. So what a great thing for Vermont to give back when they come to our state."
Danform Shoes Inc. donated 10-thousand dollars in footwear to fit shoes for anyone they can.
"I think most of us have so much in Vermont and so if we can give back to someone who doesn't have a lot, it's a great feeling." said Bertoni.
A great feeling recognizing people with different backgrounds and stories, as they come together to celebrate freedom.
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:00 PM EST2013-12-04 23:00:46 GMT
Burlington's deputy police chief is off the hook on drunk driving charges after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors Wednesday.More >>
Burlington's deputy police chief took a plea deal Wednesday, and then announced his retirement. The plea gets Andi Higbee off the hook for drunk driving, but the resolution of the case also ends his 24-year career with the BPD.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:45 AM EST2013-12-04 14:45:58 GMT
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End. It happened Tuesday afternoon on Marble Ave. Investigators say Bryan Frazier, 30, and Rashad Sabree,More >>
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:31 AM EST2013-12-04 14:31:50 GMT
An accused murderer has fired his investigator. Dennis Tribble was convicted of murder twice. The 63-year-old Vermont man was convicted of shooting and killing Michael Borello in 2000. But the VermontMore >>
An accused murderer has fired his investigator.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:24 PM EST2013-12-04 23:24:21 GMT
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges. Police say Joshua Loura is now linked to three break-ins in Wolcott and Johnson. He was already accused ofMore >>
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:06 PM EST2013-12-04 23:06:01 GMT
Some of Vermont's craft beers are so popular they are being re-sold illegally on the internet, and now the state is cracking down. Brewers like Heady Topper, Hill Farmstead and Lawson's Finest have notedMore >>
Has the Heady Topper craze gotten out of control? Now, a lawyer is in trouble with the law for allegedly trying to capitalize on the Vermont craft brew craze.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:03 PM EST2013-12-04 23:03:30 GMT
Still no word from investigators on what caused a fatal fire in Northern New York. Police say Sierra Daha, 22, died in the fire at her home on Dugway Road in Moriah Tuesday morning. An autopsy was completedMore >>
Still no word from investigators on what caused a fatal fire in Northern New York.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:16 PM EST2013-12-04 23:16:20 GMT
Betsy Bishop and staff at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce spent much of the year on the phone, convincing business operators to bring their insurance business to the state's online marketplace. But now,More >>
Individual and family enrollments are picking up speed on Vermont Health Connect, but a new extension for businesses is forcing some to re-think health coverage strategies... again.More >>