Refugees: People who care can help

By Tim Patterson on June 28, 2018 | Print

A farmer flees his land for the safety of a nearby city, driven out by insurgents who are killing his neighbors and trying to recruit one of his sons as a child soldier, living in a tent with his wife and five children, and now about to face a harsh winter. How can they find help?  

A young wife and mother is trapped in another country with her husband and five-year-old daughter, unable to return home because of persecution for her faith, not enough income to pay the bills, and now she has cancer. Where can she go for help?  

A young man was chased across the border by militants with nothing but the clothes on his back, traumatized as he witnessed his own people murdered and their village burned, persecuted even after he arrived in the refugee camp. What can be done to help this young man?

These are only a few of the stories that describe the dilemma for millions of refugees and displaced peoples around the world. Living in a peaceful and stable country, we cannot imagine the horrors they go through. Even if we want to help, we can feel overwhelmed and clueless about what to do. But there are ways to help. What one person can do may seem insignificant, but combined with the efforts of thousands of people who care, a small act of generosity can make a huge difference.

“Thank you for these warm blankets that you provided for my family this winter.”

The winter season was brutal, especially for this farmer and his family, as their only shelter was a tent. They had to endure dust storms, freezing rain and snow, and on top of that, they were running out of food. People who care provided blankets, fuel for heat, and staple food items to help this farmer’s family, and help over 1,600 other displaced people sharing their same predicament. Refugees, especially in the early stages of their flight, have acute emergency needs that can only be met through immediate relief. People who care can give for these types of needs – food packets, cooking utensils, blankets, hygiene kits, and more… all can make the difference in the survival of a refugee family.

“My daughter would have no mother, if you had not helped me.”

This young mother was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. Because of people who care, she was able to access healthcare and has been going through chemotherapy over the past year. Through partnership with two local churches in their host country, funding was provided for medical treatment, transportation to and from the hospital, supplemental food and rent, and education for her daughter. The husband works hard, but he cannot find a good paying job in the country where they now reside. However, the local churches have rallied around this family to help them survive and even thrive. Ladies from one church accompany the mother to the hospital, provide translation, and stay with her during treatments. The other church sends volunteers to their apartment to help around the house and take the daughter to school. While this family’s plight took place overseas, people who care will find that there are refugees in their own city who need help. There are organizations and local churches that reach out to immigrant communities here and abroad.  They need volunteers. People who care can volunteer to help refugee families adjust to life in their new country, and even help them to flourish.

“I was beaten and put in jail for my new faith, and now I try to help my people.”

Refugees like this young man undergo emotional anguish from witnessing horrendous acts of violence committed against others and sometimes suffer physical abuse themselves. This young refugee received help with his trauma, and although he continues to experience persecution, he now attempts to help his own people. People who care have trained others and participate in “trauma healing” programs as one way to help refugees cope with the pain they have lived through and set them on a path toward healing. People who care can offer a listening ear and engage with refugees to help with their long-term needs and development.

How can we help refugees? People who care can help refugees by giving to their acute needs, volunteer to help in practical ways, and offer a listening ear to help them identify their own needs and set them on a sustainable path toward a new life. If you would like to support or participate in helping refugees, click here for resources, ideas and tangible ways to help you get started.

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