This past weekend, Refugee Family Services, a non profit based in suburbs of Atlanta hosted their annual gala fundraiser, Taste the World at Zoo Atlanta. It was a beautiful event that shared rich stories of refugee settlers and how they have overcome unimaginable challenges to create more meaningful lives abroad.

Once the guests walked past the flamingos and the elephants, they arrived at a simply decorated pavilion. Some people were attired in traditional clothing, representing far off places, from Russia to Sudan. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the rich culture diversity in our city. There were several items for auction including a private feeding with the lions and a safari to Africa. Entertainment included the famous Burundi drummers. It was uplifting to see how much vigor these dancers had, jumping in the air and drumming away to high notes.

As the name signifies, Taste the World gave the guests the opportunity to try different cuisines. There were tables set of Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican and Korean foods. From homemade samosas to ingera flat bread, there was something from each corner of the world. I could feel a coexistence of cultures on the same plate.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the evening was to hear Derreck Kayongo, founder of The Global Soap Project and CNN Heroes Finalist. Since resettling in the United States as a child refugee, Derreck Kayongo has dedicated his life to improving the lives of marginalized people through his work as a social entrepreneur and advocate of justice. He was awarded the “Raising our voices” honoree for all the amazing work he has done with CARE and his non profit. I worked with Derreck while I was at Gallup and have known him for a few years now. It is amazing to see how much he has accomplished in just a couple of years.

The Global Soap Project recovers discarded soap from hotels, processes into new bars and distributes it to those in need throughout the third world. Since 2009, they have delivered over 250,000 bars of soap around the world.  To attend the Taste the World event next year, keep an eye out on the Refugee Family Services web site or join their Facebook page.