If your head isn’t in the sand, then you’ve heard about what’s happening in Aleppo.
The Syrian Civil War between President Assad and the rebels seems to be ending… and not in favor of those who have been fighting for a democracy and for their lives.
As millions have escaped Syria during this time we’ve seen an uproar in the US over allowing them to come here. But let’s be clear about a few things…
- Refugees are escaping their homes, not coming to push us out of ours. And just because their country won’t let them immigrate doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be welcome here. It means their situation means facing persecution and is possibly life threatening… and they just need to get out. Furthermore, a refugee who applies to be resettled doesn’t get to chose where they go, and the ones who arrive here already have to go through the strictest screening process in the world. It can take years. Here’s a little bit of a look into that where San Antonio has been a huge help to families this month.
- Refugees are people. Some are men, some are women, some are children. Just like you; just like me. Don’t forget this. We are lucky and blessed to be where we are, and when we keep that from others… I just can’t understand the lack of empathy and compassion that comes with that.
- If you believe in the Bible like I do, then please don’t tell me that there is one verse that says to protect your family and therefore we don’t have to invite refugees to live in the US. See: The Good Samaritan , commands to share what we have with those who have none, be hospitable to strangers (here and here), Love your neighbor…. There are more… so many more. All along the same lines of these. Love God, love people.
And now the question is… what do we do? If we’re supposed to love these people and if we have more than we need, how do we then help people that are thousands of miles away?
Some needs are immediate while others you can carry out over time. There is a ton of information out there on this subject, but here are some I have found and read through. I’ll note which ones I personally have participated in as well.
Actions To Take Now
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This week there were three actions mentioned that we can take to help those in Aleppo and the refugees.
✓ Donate to the White Helmets, a group of unarmed and neutral rescue workers who have saved more than 73,530 people from the attacks in Syria.
✓ Sign their letter to the UN Security Council, urging follow through on the demand to stop barrel bombs by introducing a no-fly zone. (David and I have both done this)
✓ Make a donation to UNICEF’s effort to help Syrian children, which is the largest relief operation in history.
Where To Give
If you want to help these families who are being torn apart, wewelcomerefugees.com is a good place to start looking for where to give. They also provide other ways to get involve such as Advocate, pray, welcome and more. (David and I will be looking to give through here later today)
The Compassion Collective is collecting money to give again. They were created to help the Syrian refugee crisis, in particular to feed starving people and take care of children. You can give to their current campaign here. (David and I have given to them in the past)
Through RAICES you can also purchase a Welcome Home Backpack to provide basic supplies to refugees. (David and I have purchased backpacks recently)
Donate through World Vision. They focus on child sponsorship but often request specific needs for what’s going on in the world. I expect an email any day now with information on Aleppo and how to help. (David and I sponsor a child and give specially when a need arises)
The SARA Organization in Austin devotes its energy to advocating for refugees as well. You can give to them through the Donate button on their homepage.
How To Volunteer
You can become a refugee advocate through RAICES. Help provide legal support, transportation, room in your home, host events and more. Fill out the form (where you tell them what you’re comfortable doing) and wait for the confirmation email. You can contact them with questions, and you’ll find out when someone will be in your area that you can help.
(David and I have signed up to be refugee advocates)
Volunteer somewhere local…
With SARA Org you can mentor and tutor, teach skills and trades, and just do general work to help. http://www.saraorg.org/At the San Antonio Center for Refugee Services you can help at events, be a donations coordinator, drive, teach and more. http://sarefugees.org/
Many of the places you can volunteer at also take donations of food, clothes and money.
You church can even host a refugee Sunday where you pray, study and give towards what is happening right now. World Vision has the resources you’ll need. http://church.worldvision.org/