According to Mercy Corps, “Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population – more than 11 million people – have been killed or forced to flee their homes.”
The Syrian people are in need, struggling under harrowing conditions. They deal with growing poverty, setbacks in education, as well as vulnerability to disease, malnutrition, exploitation, sexual abuse and violence in a country torn apart by corrupt leaders and extremist groups.
Religious and humanitarian leader Linda Burton said each person has a “pressing call” to help refugees and asked people to ponder the question, “What if [the refugees’] story were my story?”
There’s so much you can do to make a difference in the lives our fellow human beings that doesn’t take much effort. Here are nine things you can do:
1. Educate yourself
In order to better understand the needs of refugees worldwide and in your community, you need to familiarize yourself with who they are.
Do some research to increase your understanding of the reasons refugees are escaping their countries and what their needs are. You can read or listen to articles from accredited organizations or read a book written by a refugee.
2. Educate others
Through both word of mouth and social media, motivate and start conversations with others to help them understand how they have a human responsibility to participate in efforts to help refugees.
3. Be a friend
Refugees are displaced from their homes and put into new environments absolutely out of their comfort zones. Sometimes just being a friend can make a world of difference.
Invite refugees into your home for meals or family activities, converse with each other or share an activity you like doing like hiking or listening to music.
Currently more than half of the United States governors are against taking in more refugees and only 1,500 refugees have been allowed inside the United States since 2011.
You can help refugees by making your voice heard in your government. Even something small, such as writing a letter to your congressman about increasing the speed of offering visas, can stimulate change in government policy.
Since refugees are placed into entirely new and different environments, they have a lot to learn about their new worlds. They need someone to teach them how to navigate these environments, and that someone is you.
Many organizations facilitate classes and tutoring to help refugees learn the language of their new home, use public transportation, secure employment, etc. Usually these teaching efforts don’t require extended amounts of training or time. Find what needs your local community organizations have and go volunteer.
There are many accredited nonprofit organizations that will use your funds to directly benefit refugees. This money helps with medical care, legal assistance, food, water and sanitation.
Not all the money you donate to help with relief efforts needs to be from your own pocket.
Set up a fundraiser to increase the amount of money you can provide. Get creative with your personal talents – do anything from a bake sale, to a concert, to a yard sale.
8. Open your home
If you have a spare room in your home or you’re looking for a roommate, you can bless the life of someone who no longer has a home. To look into hosting a refugee in your home, check out Room For Refugees.
There are many groups that collect items for refugees’ specific needs. You and your neighbors might already have these items. All you need to do is send them somewhere they can be used to help. For example, you could collect hygiene kits of things like toilet paper and soap.