Imagine waking up on a winter holiday morning. The sun peaks through your window, illuminating your room. The cold wind whistles outside your window, but you’re safe and warm inside. There is a roof over your head, blankets and clothes to keep you warm, and your fridge filled with food.
Unfortunately this isn't the case for the estimated 79.5 million people forcibly displaced around the world. A figure that has doubled in the last 30 years.
For many of us in America, the holiday season means spending time with family, sharing meals together and exchanging gifts. But for these refugees, this holiday season is just another season in which they try to meet their own basic needs, only with the added challenge of fighting the often frigid temperatures.
The winter holiday season is a time of year for everyone to show kindness to one another. During this 202 holiday season, let’s extend that generosity to those who are truly in need.
An Unimaginable Reality
Can you believe that one person becomes forcibly displaced due to conflict, persecution or human rights violations every two seconds?
It takes immense courage and sacrifice to leave the life you know in search of a safe haven for you and your family. For many refugees, what gives them hope is the thought of what their future will bring. Their dreams are filled with the idea of not only freedom, but the possibility of building a sustainable life without the constant fear of persecution.
The reality is sadly much more grim as they face dangerous journeys through unknown obstacles, cold, hazardous weather conditions and virtually nothing to protect them. The unfortunate reality is that some do not complete the trip, and those who do are rewarded by being crowded into refugee camps. There are limited resources in these camps, which means many go without food, clothing, and basic necessities.
How To Spread Joy To Refugees This Holiday Season
1. Donate money to reputable organizations
Organizations such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, UNHCR and hundreds of others, rely on your generous donations in order to deliver necessary support to refugees around the world. This includes access to education, food, warm clothing and shelter.
2. Donate your time helping refugees in your city
When refugees arrive in an unfamiliar country, they may not know the language, the customs, or have any support network. Volunteering in your communities to help new refugees settle into their surroundings can give them a sense of safety and make a huge impact on their futures
3. Raise Awareness
Not everyone has the financial means to donate to these organizations. But raising awareness is one of the many ways we can help refugees this Holiday season. You can spread awareness on social media, host discussions with family and friends, and join rallies to fight for refugee rights.
4. Purchase Gifts for Refugees
Another one of the ways to help refugees is by purchasing specific gifts to be sent directly to those in need. These could be gifts for refugees in your own community or for refugees abroad. There are hundreds of grassroots groups trying to fill the gaps in the distribution of aid to refugees.
Choose Love, for example, is a nonprofit organization who has partnered with several of these refugee organizations around the world, to distribute gifts to those in need. It’s these gifts that have allowed many refugee rescue operations to continue to run and provide access to clean water, food, and survival essentials.
5. Give refugees your political support
Refugees rely on the governments to grant them refugee status in their respective countries. This gives them access to further resources and programs to help build a sustainable future for them and their families. There needs to be sufficient political policies in place to protect refugee rights.
You have the power to influence the political decisions made in your country. Use your voice to enact change by calling your elected officials and refugee lobbyist groups, showcasing your support for improved refugee programs.
Give The Gift Of Hope
Donating to refugees can come in different forms, and can even be included in the everyday things we do. The Holiday season is a time of year to buy gifts for loved ones and a great way to support refugees is to buy products from businesses who actively support refugees. There are many companies who donate a percentage of profits from each sale to refugee support programs.
There are also companies like Epimonia who go one step further, not only do they donate 50% of the profits to refugee organizations, they also work to provide refugees with gainful employment and produce incredible merchandise.
Unfortunately, the challenges faced by refugees do not stop once they have fled, it will be a constant uphill battle for years to come. This Holiday season, open your hearts to those less fortunate, and make conscious decisions that will make an impact on their lives.