Ever since returning to America three weeks ago, I keep getting struck with the feeling of “what am I supposed to do now?”
I was handed the life changing opportunity to live in Germany for a month and not only study the refugee resettlement, but meet and form real connections with Syrian people that have been affected by it. Now I’m back home just sitting in my house in small town Wisconsin wondering how I can stay involved when it feels like I’m so far removed.
This feeling of wanting to do something to help but not knowing how is nothing new for me, and I think that it’s something a lot of people can relate to.
The first thing people typically think to do is to donate money since this is something that is incredibly helpful and always needed, but it can be difficult to know which organizations are the best to give to since there are so many different options.
Two organizations I would recommend starting with are the UNHCR and UNICEF.
The UNHCR is the world’s leading organization in aiding and protecting refugees. It provides shelter, food, water, and other lifesaving assistance to people in need all around the world. It was formed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950 and has since aided an estimated 50 million refugees in restarting their lives. The UNHCR has earned two Nobel Peace Prizes.
The organization allows a person to choose between making a one-time donation and donating every month. Donations can provide clean water, tarps to protect people from the weather, education grants, medicine, and more.
The website also allows a person to start both online fundraisers through crowdfunding, and in person fundraisers in their own community using a toolkit specially designed by the UNHCR.
You can donate here.
UNICEF has helped saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. It provides health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more to help children in over 190 countries and territories. UNICEF’s overall goal is to create a world where no children die from preventable causes, and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.
UNICEF also allows a person to choose between making a one-time donation and making a monthly donation. One can also either organize a fundraiser through the website, or use it to find a fundraiser happening near them that they can attend.
UNICEF also has an online store where a person can purchase home décor, clothing, jewelry, and accessories that have been handcrafted by artists all around the world. All of the money raised in the store goes right back into the organization so they can continue helping children.
A person can also use the shop to purchase things like mosquito nets, vaccines, school supplies, and water kits for people in need all around the world.
You can donate here.
You can visit the shop here.
If you don’t have a lot of extra money to donate, or if you simply want to get involved in a more personal way, you can look for volunteer opportunities near you. According to their website, UNICEF is always looking for volunteers to host awareness raising events such as panel discussions, speaking about human trafficking, global citizenship, and emergencies all over the world. Volunteers also hold money raising events such as bake sales, dinner parties, and sporting events.
You can view different volunteer opportunities here.
One simple thing that almost anyone can do to help with the Syrian refugee resettlement is to raise awareness by posting about it on social media. This seems like a very small thing to do, but is helpful nonetheless because it can inform people about what’s going on and possibly inspire them to help as well.
If you live in the United States and are unhappy with our policy about admitting refugees (or any other policy, for that matter) a great thing to do is to call your local representative and tell them about it. If you don’t know who your representative is, you can find out here.
These are just a few ways that you can help with the Syrian refugee crisis. It doesn’t necessarily have to take a lot of money or a big commitment to make a difference; no act is too small, because every little bit helps.