On Monday, I got to visit for a few hours with one of my neighbors, who is one of the few people displaced by the war in Syria that has been lucky enough to already be permanently resettled as a refugee. Through very broken english, her children’s translation, and a smart phone app, we were able to have a conversation in which I saw a woman with a tragic yet incredibly heroic past and a beautiful servant’s heart. I left feeling loved, encouraged, and awe-struck by her and her children’s resilience, kindness, persistence, and courage. I have known this woman for about a month, and she is my closest and only personal connection to what is happening in Syria, so it has been easy to ignore that there are millions of people with similar stories to my friend.
The war in Syria has been going on for five years, and while millions have been displaced for most of that time, the eyes of the world recently acknowledged these individuals due to a picture of a dead child that unfortunately is not anomalous to the plight of millions. Obviously, with such a huge and terrible crisis, it is difficult for us as individuals to not be paralyzed by the enormity of the crisis and seemingly endless war. However, there are very real, impactful things that we can and should do in order to be a small piece of a solution rather than a bystander. This is SO important because inaction is not benign. It sends a clear message that we will not stand up for human rights. Therefore, if we don’t, the people who do not care about them will violate them more and more.
Therefore, here are some ways that you can help the millions of Syrian refugees that we all have seen flooding the news cycles over the past couple of days, but have existed long before that and will exist after this isn’t the hot button story.
- Donate. There are hundreds of amazing organizations that are assisting Syrian refugees in a variety of ways, everything from arranging host homes, to providing water bottles to camps, to assisting with legal residence applications. However, before you pick one to give to, please do your research! It was so sad to me that many reputable articles have listed possible donation recipients that consistently receive poor ratings from trusted third parties like Charity Navigator and GuideStar.
I have chosen to donate to the International Rescue Committee (IRC). They are by no means perfect, but they consistently receive very high ratings from charity watchdogs, and I have seen their work with refugees in my own community so I feel more connected to what they are doing abroad. In Europe, they are currently helping to set up temporary residences and provide for the basic needs of refugees in transit to countries ready to accept them.
- Ask your representatives and senators to allocate funds to receiving refugees and expediting the process. You can do this through email or phone, but the bottom line is that if Congress hears from enough people about this, they will be way more likely to act in a timely fashion.
- Pray. Syrian refugees appear to be fighting an uphill battle. Some countries even seem to be purposefully sabotaging their already dangerous voyage, and the images that are surfacing reveal how desperate these individuals are in order to even consider making this trek. Therefore, we must pray for them that God will surround them with his protection, peace, and security. I have seen how God answers prayer. When all hope seems lost, he is hope. He redeems lives and he can do that for the millions displaced in this war… but wouldn’t it be amazing if he used us to do it?