News from the Week of August 8, 2016

Here’s another round-up of what we’ve been reading and watching this week, from the news and around the web:

On Monday, the ten athletes of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team marched in the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games. As the team wound its way through Rio’s Maracana stadium, spectators rose to their feet and welcomed the athletes with thunderous applause.

All eyes have been upon the Refugee Olympic Team since and their competitive spirit, reminding us how the Olympics unite people across gender, race, religion, and nationality.

Soon after the games began Congolese refugee Popole Misenga became the  first refugee in history to win an Olympic Judo match. Misenga’s passionate story highlights the determination and strength of refugees around the world. Misenga, whose mother was murdered when he was only a boy, has not seen his family in 15 years. But he knows they are watching: “‘How did he do this?' I did it because I wanted to win. Every refugee is a human being, too, and we can win in everything we want if you believe in yourself,” says Misenga.

The New York Times reports that even though the Refugee Olympic Team continues to touch the world, the response to the global refugee crisis has not been as warm. It’s important that as we cheer on Syrian refugees Olympians Yusra Mardini and Rami Anis we also recognize that the current crisis will persist beyond the Closing Ceremony. The athletes, through their powerful stories and brave performances, are doing much to raise awareness, but it's up to the world to act on their message.

The United States is among the most vocal supporters of the Refugee Olympic Team, yet we have had difficulty in admitting even ten thousand Syrian refugees across our borders (only about 7% of our fair share, according to Oxfam). As we continue to support the team in Rio, we can’t forget that the United States should be a world leader in the refugee crisis.

The athletes of the Refugee Olympic Team are not the only ones we’ve had our eye on this week, we’re also proud of the 554 members of the United States Olympic Team, who are smashing records in Rio. From Michael Phelps to Simone Biles, to say America is being well-represented this games would be an understatement.

And while our men and women are busy making us proud, there is one Olympian busy making history. Ibtihaj Muhammad, a 30-year-old New Jersey native, became  the first woman to ever represent the United States wearing the hijab, then, days later, she became the first to win an Olympic medal while doing so. For Muhammad, the headscarf represents only a part of who she is and showcases the diversity that is America, “It's all really a big dream. I don't think it’s hit me yet. The honor of representing Muslim and black women is one I don't take lightly," Muhammad told Rolling Stone Magazine.

Finally, to end the week we share a touching story from the Lone Star State. A north Texas woman was stunned by a random act of kindness she received from an unlikely source. The woman, desperate and in need of money to feed her family, attempted to sell a prized ring, a gift from her mother. The jeweler refused the ring and gave her the money she needed anyway, when asked about his kindness he replied, "I just wanted to help out somebody who needed a hand.” Such generosity can be a powerful message to inspire others, he should know, it was that sort of kindness that got him and his family safely from Syria to the United States as refugees.

Have reactions to share, or want to learn how you can be involved in our efforts to raise veteran voices in support of refugees? Find us on Facebook or Twitter, or contact us at [email protected].