Today is World Refugee Day, as designated by the United Nations. This year, the day is even more important that usual as the refugee crisis arising out of the Middle East and Europe continues to grow daily. Millions of people are fleeing their homes daily – most of them from Syria – to seek refuge and safety from ISIS. Unfortunately, the countries they’re fleeing to are accepting very few immigrants, and a lot of these refugees – if they survive the journey – are forced to live in refugee camps.
So, today, we wanted to challenge you – as daughters of the King of Kings – to do something about this crisis. As Mother Teresa once said, “It is a kingly act to assist the fallen.”
1.Educate yourself on our modern day refugee crisis.
We’ve said before and we’ll continue to say it: know what you stand for and stay informed.
The current refugee crisis has been making international headlines for the last three years, so at the very least, take a few minutes to read some of the news articles and features written on the crisis. For example, TIME has done a wonderful series of articles on the crisis and the New York Times compiled a list of ways you can help.
We also love this mini documentary filmed by the AT&T spokesperson while on vacation in Greece and the book “The Scent of Water” by Naomi Zacharias is a beautiful tale of one woman’s journey around the world and the people and issues she encountered (including her time spent in refugee camps in the Middle East).
Want a crash course in the European refugee crisis? Check out this Skimm guide on the issue.
2. Tell others about the problem.
Unlike many generations before us, we have access to speak and be heard by hundreds or even thousands of people. Yes, I’m talking about social media. Even if you have a dozen friends/followers, use that influence for good. Today especially, we encourage you to share something on your social media to raise awareness about the refugee crisis. You can share one of the images from this post, or join the #CantDoNothing movement which has videos, text and images you can share on social media.
You can also use your talents to make a difference. Whether it’s painting, writing, teaching or whatever else you’re good at, use that to raise awareness about the refugee crisis. For example, one of our lovely readers, Emily, paints globes (like the one above!) to sell on Etsy, with proceeds going to refugee relief through Preemptive Love Coalition. What can you do today to raise awareness?
Maybe you are in a season of life when you can’t give your time or money. But, you can always pray. Because God has an international army of Christians at His disposal who can help – they are politicians, diplomats, attorneys, missionaries, businesspeople, college students, and ordinary people who are in positions to help. But, we’re human, and even though we may be in those positions, we don’t always know to act. So, pray that God will open the right hearts and opportunities to make an impact on the refugee crisis.
Hungry for love, He looks at you. Thirsty for kindness, He begs of you. Naked for loyalty, He hopes in you. Homeless for shelter in your heart, He asks of you. Will you be that one to Him? ― Mother Teresa
4. Give financially.
We’ve talked about the importance of tithing before, and if you have been unsure what to do with your tithe, then consider giving money to one of the many organizations and ministries helping on the front lines of refugee crisis. As always though, make sure you do some background research on any charity you donate to! To get you started, the Can’t Do Nothing website has vetted three organizations helping the refugee crisis directly.
5. Sign petitions and speak up.
When you share something on social media regarding the refugee crisis, make sure to use #WithRefugees which is a viral petition which will be delivered to UN headquarters in New York ahead of the UN High Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants, scheduled for September 19. The petition asks governments to:
- Ensure every refugee child gets an education.
- Ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
- Ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution
to their community.
Unfortunately, the bulk of this current refugee crisis can only be solved through political, military and diplomatic action. Since most of the developed nations are democracies, the elected leaders need to know that the people care about this issue and want something done. So, let’s speak up and let our leaders know that it’s not okay that there are thousands of displaced families who need our help and support.
6. Go and help!
If you’re on summer break or looking for something to do on your next vacation, look into visiting Greece or one of the other European countries that have become home to incoming refugees. There are a lot of organizations that will put you in touch with refugee camps where you can volunteer your time.
If you live in Europe, travel is a bit easier for you to get to the areas where refugees are entering Europe. There may even be a refugee camp near you, so do some research to see where you can go to help – even if its just for one day!
7. Volunteer in your own community.
If you’re not in a position to travel internationally to help, you can still help refugees through daily life. Most countries, including the United States, have opened their doors to refugees. But, getting into a country is only the beginning. Once these families immigrate, they need help with even the most basic needs – getting around a city, applying for aid, registering their kids for school, job searching.
Google where the nearest refugee center is near you or get in touch with local welfare offices and nonprofits for leads. If you’re in college, contact your international student office to see if they can put you in touch with an international student who you can take out to lunch once in awhile just to chat. Just having that exposure to other cultures – whether it’s a refugee or just a student studying abroad for a semester, broadens your horizons and gives you the opportunity to be the light.