How to Help Refugees

Three Parts:Financial AssistanceHands-On HelpSpreading the Word

Refugees who flee from oppressive conditions in their home countries have additional challenges to face as they resettle elsewhere. If you want to help refugees from all nations, you can do so through both hands-on and financial assistance. Spreading the word and promoting the cause can also make a difference.

Part 1
Financial Assistance

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    Familiarize yourself with various refugee services. There are numerous refugee services that work on local, national, and international levels to provide help to refugees from various nations. Learn about some of the different organizations and the work that they do.
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    Donate money to refugee services. Once you've done your homework on the different refugee services available, consider making a donation to the organization's headquarters. Some organizations will decide how to use your donation while others may allow you to specify where you want the money to go.
    • Realize that every organization will only spend part of your donation directly on refugee services. The rest will go toward for related expenses.
    • Do your research before donating to any organization to find out just how much of your money will actually benefit refugees. Look for the information on the organization's donation webpage. If that information is not readily accessible, try to find a copy of the organization's latest annual financial report.
    • Most organizations will allow you to make a one-time donation online, by mail, or by phone. Many also encourage monthly donations.
    • You may even be able to make a financial gift in tribute to a loved one or colleague.
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    Arrange a fund-raising campaign. You can make a bigger financial impact by arranging a refugee fund-raising campaign within your community or online. Work with an existing refugee service to arrange and donate the money raised during the campaign.
    • Consider arranging these campaigns in your municipality, church, or office.
    • Aside from fund-raising drives, you can also hold non-monetary donation drives. Encourage people to donate furniture and other household items needed to set up new living spaces. Donations of toiletries, clothing, and non-perishable food can also be collected.

Part 2
Hands-On Help

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    Intern through a refugee service. Learn more about the process of helping refugees and coordinate directly with those involved in the work by applying for an internship through an existing national or international refugee service.
    • Internships are usually limited and fairly competitive, especially if you want to work with a relatively well-known organization.
    • When interning through a refugee support organization, you may get involved with a range of activities. These can include supporting case work management, assisting with health education, and helping the development of youth programs within an area.
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    Contact nearby refugee offices. If interning is not an option, you can still contact the nearest refugee support center or office with inquiries on how to help. This office should be able to tell you what services are presently needed and how you can get involved.
    • To locate the nearest office, visit your favorite refugee support organizations online and look for a directory of local branches. If none is available online, contact the organization with your inquiry.
    • Many organizations may require you to register as a volunteer before helping in an official manner. Usually, this process involves filling out a volunteer application, going through a background check, and attending a volunteer orientation. You may also be interviewed by the office staff.[1]
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    Volunteer in your community. Spend time working directly with refugees living in or near your community. Everyone has different skills and abilities to offer. Figure out a way to make a difference using yours.
    • Help refugees settling in your community by assisting them as they set up their new lives.
    • Provide clean, essential furnishings and offer to help move these supplies into their new dwelling.
    • Consider cooking a culturally appropriate meal for them.
    • Offer to drive them to various appointments, especially when those appointments deal with necessities like doctors' visits, job interviews, grocery store trips, and ESL classes.
    • Offer to teach or tutor English to non-English-speaking refugees, or volunteer as a conversation partner.
    • Simply befriend the refugees living in your community. Extending the hand of friendship can offer a lot of emotional support during a traumatic time.
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    Co-sponsor local refugees through your place of worship. Meet with the leaders and talk to them about welcoming and helping refugees living in your community.
    • Many faiths promote hospitality as a virtue. Getting your church involved in refugee support will benefit the refugees they support, and it can also be a spiritually enriching activity for the entire congregation.
    • Church co-sponsors usually work with larger refugee organizations. They may provide sources of safe housing, furnishings, food, clothing, and other material necessities. They may also help refugees establish themselves by referring them to health programs, job opportunities, and public service offices.
    • Members of the congregation should seek hands-on involvement when possible by personally interacting with refugees in the immediate community.
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    Encourage your company to get involved. Talk to the Human Resources department at your company and mention the need in your community. Explain how offering assistance can benefit both the refugees and the company itself.
    • Companies can help refugees by offering employment opportunities. When this is not an option, they can offer opportunities to help refugees improve various employment skills.
    • If your company cannot support refugee causes in a hands-on manner, talk to the financial department about making a corporate donation to a well-known refugee service organization. These donations are usually tax deductible and can provide good press.
    • Donation drives are another option. Both material and financial donation drives can help. Encourage the company to match donations made by their employees.[2]
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    Pray. If you believe in God or a higher power, regularly pray for refugees and their families. Encourage your friends, relatives, colleagues, and church family to do the same.
    • Consider organizing a prayer circle that meets regularly to discuss and pray for refugees and their families.

Part 3
Spreading the Word

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    Stay informed. Newsletters and other publications can provide you with the latest news regarding refugees from across the world. Before you can inform others, you must regularly inform yourself.
    • Almost every major refugee support organization will have its own digital newsletter you can sign up for through their website.
    • Regularly follow the news via television, radio, and the Internet to learn the latest about refugee causes.
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    Organize a community discussion. Arrange an informative, discussion-based event regarding refugees and their associated crises. Invite members of your community to attend the event by thoroughly promoting it.
    • Consider arranging the event around a significant date or season. Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas can encourage generosity and goodwill, so it is a popular season to choose. You could also hold the even on World Refugee Day, which is recognized on June 20 each calendar year.
    • Generate interest in the event by inviting refugees or those who actively help refugees to speak. When those directly involved in the process are included in the discussion, the cause is given a "face," making it seem more personal and easier to support.[3]
    • These discussions can be held in local schools, workplaces, churches, social clubs, or town halls.
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    Contact representatives in your government. Call or write to your government representatives concerning refugee causes. This is one of the best ways to make your voice heard within the government.
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    Get in touch with local media sources. When local, state, and national refugee stories come up, contact your local media and encourage them to report on those stories. Local media can include television news, radio news, and newspapers.
    • To generate more support, try presenting the cause as a human interest story. Attaching a specific name or face to the cause may help convince your local media outlet to build a story.
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    Spread the word via social networking.[4] The widespread use of social networking websites has made it easier than ever to spread under-reported news to friends, relatives, and acquaintances.
    • Consider following various refugee support organizations on you social media accounts, as well. Doing so will allow you to keep up on the latest news and updates, and you can usually post those updates to your own page.
    • Make use of as many social media networks as possible, including Facebook, Twitter, Causes, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, and Google Plus.
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    Nominate a candidate for the Nansen Refugee Award. This award is given in October each year to a group or individual who has contributed greatly to refugee support.
    • By highlighting the work of others in the field of refugee support, you can help draw attention to the significance of that field.
    • The call for nominations usually closes in January or February of the award year.
    • The candidate's work should go above and beyond the call of duty while demonstrating courage and making a direct impact on those he, she, or they serve.[5]
    • You can learn more about the award here:

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Categories: Volunteer and Community Service | Fundraising and Charity