World Refugee Day 2017
Today is World Refugee Day, the day set aside each year to celebrate the resilience of refugees around the world, to express appreciation for the contributions they have made to our communities, and to recommit ourselves to assisting refugees who remain displaced. Today there are more refugees displaced around the world than at any other time in recorded history, but at the same time there seems to be more controversy concerning refugee assistance than ever before. Overall, the response of the international community to the global refugee crisis has not been sufficient. So, even if you feel overwhelmed and frustrated by your government's hesitancy to welcome refugees, here are some things you can do as an individual to make a difference for refugees.
When President Trump signed his executive order concerning refugees earlier this year, many of the organizations that serve refugees in the US lost much of their funding overnight. Making a financial contribution to one of these organizations (like World Relief) can help them continue programs for refugees who have already been resettled in the US. Your donation can also keep them from having to lay off key staff members. While I would definitely encourage you to do your research and get to know an organization before making a financial contribution to them, it could be an excellent investment.
Since organizations like World Relief have been forced to lay off staff and even close entire offices, they have become even more reliant on volunteers to help them serve refugees well. If you haven't yet taken steps to become a volunteer with a refugee aid organization now would be the perfect time. If you're not sure which of the nine resettlement agencies has an office in your area, you can find out on this page of WeWelcomeRefugees.com.
Yes, refugee-related policy issues are very controversial right now, but if there is any time to speak up in support of something you feel is important, it is exactly when there is controversy surrounding it. Misinformation about refugees and immigrants is rampant. If you hear co-workers, friends, family, or church members spreading false information, be bold and share what you know. If you don't feel completely confident in your knowledge of the issues, point people in the direction of resources that can shed light on some of their questions.
This World Refugee Day let's make a commitment to act in one of these three ways, so that by next year, on World Refugee Day 2018, a few more refugees will have found a more permanent home.