My son just turned 3 years old last week. He sits on my lap and holds my hand every day. He gives me big hugs and sloppy kisses.
To say that when I saw little Alan Kurdi face down on the Turkish beach with the tide surrounding him, I broke down sobbing is an understatement. I wailed. I double-over in sobs and plead with God to save these souls, to send them help and call the world’s complacency into action.
The photo I shared via Twitter of this sweet little 3 year old boy has since gone viral for which I’m thankful. Alan has provided a major thrust for the world to get active but how terrible that it took such a poignant and devastating death to bring it to the surface.
We are broken for these beautiful lives lost and struggle with our desire to help. What kind of practical and tangible help we can offer? Most Eastern and Central European countries are being inundated with thousands of refugees. They are overwhelmed and their policies are stretched beyond what they thought they could bear. This is a fragile situation, and not just for the refugees but for the world.
My heart beats for the awareness of the nations. So, what do I do? Sitting here in my living room in Nebraska with two young children, how can I possibly help the situation that’s half a world away? Yes, prayer itself is a powerful weapon and that’s something I’ve spent lots of time doing. But what else? What about meeting the needs of these people & countries? How can I help?
Here are 8 tangible and practical ways that I can help, and so can you.
I. Educate Yourself & Spread Awareness
If you haven’t heard about what’s happening and why, please stop checking Facebook and simply look at International News. This is a situation that has been climbing for months. Read up on it. Not only that but really study the scenario and why it’s affecting so many people. Not only that, but also tell others. We don’t live in a bubble, there are bigger things than us in our comfortable little houses and jobs. Trending hashtags about it are: #refugeeswelcome (Tweet a photo of yourself holding a sign saying “Refugees Welcome” and tag your government and or your government representative); #refugeecrisis; #aylankurdi
For teachers who may have refugee children in their classrooms, perhaps this book would be helpful: Supporting Refugee Children – Strategies for Educators and the UNHRC has provided this resource for teaching kids about migration and asylum.
II. Donate to Organizations
Several organizations are on the ground and helping the situation, including:
> Save the Children
> Red Cross and Red Cross Europe
> World Relief (donate to provide backpacks for resettled children here)
> World Vision
> Baptist Global Response (an arm of the IMB – International Mission Board)
> The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (donate here)
> Doctors Without Borders: Has three rescue ships in the Mediterranean, on Tuesday alone they rescued 1,658 people
> International Organization for Migration
> Hand in Hand for Syria: Working within Syrian borders to provide aid. Donations are made via British currency but these are easily converted from US donations during the transaction.
> Help those suffering in Greece
> Amnesty International
III. Support Grassroots Efforts
> Migrant Offshore Aid Station: Runs independent rescue boats to rescue refugees at risk of drowning.
> International Rescue Committee
> Lending a Hand in Hungary for refugees (volunteers bring food, clothing, and emotional support to refugees)
> Refugees Welcome (for UK and Europe)
> Calias Action
> Sawa for Development & Aid: working with refugees in Lebanon
Be a welcomer to refugees who are often dealing with tragic and traumatic experiences. Befriend them. Help them learn their new surroundings – take them grocery shopping, help them learn English (or your language if you’re reading this from another country), invite them to playdates and the park, help them learn the banking system, give them bikes to ride or old vehicles you no longer need, help them learn their new job when they get one. Use your time, energy and skills to help refugees in your area. If you need help identifying this populations of people, contact one of these organizations or consider this list as well for information.
If you are in or will visit Hungary and want to volunteer your time dispersing materials needs to the refugees themselves at train stations, consider Migration Aid.
V. Support UNHCR’s Partnerships
UNHCR (the UN’s Refugee Agency) has a number of private sector partners such as the IKEA, UPS, and Hewlett Packard, among others to increase assistance, donations and materials needs to refugees. Give them your business so they can continue to donate to humanitarian efforts worldwide.
VI. Purchase specific needed items for delivery
The UK has set up an Amazon wishlist to meet specific needs of refugees in Calias. When you purchase the items on this list, they will be delivered to Calais directly on September 17.
VII. Sign a Petition or Support Protests Calling for Action
VIII. Sponsor a refugee or family of refugees
Connect with refugee organizations and see how you can tangibly meet their needs by giving them employment, paying their rent or bills, transporting them to appointments, etc. Here is a list of partner agencies or check out RefugeeOne to see how you can meet needs of refugees already settled who may have seasonal needs, etc.
May we be the good samaritans to these people. May we prove to be their neighbors.
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers? He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.‘” — Luke 10:29-37
Get involved in the crisis. Don’t just watch it. May it move your heart toward caring for the nations.