Tuesday, 20 June 2017

World Refugee Day - How can YOU help

A World Refugee Day is observed on June 20th every year since 2001. According to the UN statistics, every 24 minutes people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. There are approximately 21.3 million refugees in the world. To that number, we have to add about 65 million forcibly displaced people and 10 million stateless people, etc.

World Refugee flow. The interactive graphics click here.

Who is a refugee?

A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”, according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.

The word or a label "refugee" definitely evokes and provokes a lof of different feeling, reactions, and prejudices. We almost forget that we are speaking about another human being when we label someone as a refugee.

On the other hand, many people want to help them to start a new life, adapt to a new country, culture, or develop their skills, continue their education. Luckily, many times searching for a light at the end of the tunnel, crisis and limitations bring interesting initiatives, ideas and creative solutions. But every good idea also needs to be supported, so there is where you can help and get involves with your or international community. Here is a short list of NGOs and other initiatives made for or by refugees. And the best thing is that you can contribute and help them from wherever you are on the globe.

How can you help?

  • DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
I believe most of you have heard about this organisation. They are present in more than 60 countries around the world. You can donate money, but there are also other ways that you can help them. You can check more about their programmes here.

  • DROP EARRINGS NOT BOMBS
This is a project that raises funds and generates income for Syrian refugees in Istanbul. Drop earrings not bombs is Partnering with Small Projects Istanbul's Olive Tree Women's Craft Collective, Beautiful earrings - a result of a beautiful initiative. You can buy them here. I fell in love with them when I first saw them and will definitely buy a pair of earrings soon.

  • KNITISTANBUL: MADE IN ISTANBUL BY SYRIAN LADIES
Another Istanbul-based initiative for and by women. They knit baby and children clothes and they are accepting your orders. Worldwide delivery. Read more about what they do here.

  • NATAKALLIM - LET'S LEARN ARABIC
Wanted to help but you didn't find a common language? Have you ever wanted to learn Arabic but you were too busy? (Yeah, I know I sound like a cheap commercial, but I love this project.) Here is what they say about themselves:
NaTakallam is a social venture that connects Syrian refugees with Arabic learners worldwide for language practice over Skype. The platform caters to students in need of affordable and flexible Arabic practice and direct access to native speakers on the one hand, while providing displaced Syrians with a source of income, marketable skills, and enriching work opportunity on the other – in an effort to combat the workforce restrictions and language barriers many refugees face in their host country. To catch a glimpse of NaTakallam in action, please feel free to check out this quick video report in France24.

To date, some 50 Syrian conversation partners and over 1200 individuals in more than 60 countries have engaged in more than 10,000 hours of NaTakallam sessions, through individual purchases or university partnerships and programming. Since starting in August 2015, displaced people have self-generated over $90,000 through their work with NaTakallam.
This is just a drop in the ocean. There are much more NGOs, local and international initiatives. This list could go on forever. I listed only 4 with which I was in contact or have collaborated before and I believe deserve more support. I myself am regularly involved with a volunteer youth community Istanbul&I

You can support all of them by sharing this post, donating, helping them (if you are located in Istanbul), or find you favourite NGO or another type of organisation in your community and offer your help. A smile that touches your heart, a nice word and the feeling of power when you realise that you can help and make a small change can be the best rewards you can get when you help another.

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