When millions of refugees began appearing in Europe and North America back in 2016, the world took notice of an issue that had already been steadily growing over the past 10 years. Per the UNHCR, it is estimated that over 65 million people have been displaced or driven out due to conflict, persecution, violence, and human rights violations.
June is World Refugee Awareness Month, and we here at Morales Group want to recognize and identify ways in which you can take action and encourage others to do the same. We have four very practical ways of getting involved and will outline four additional ways in which you too can stand with refugees in 2019.
1. Be a Sponsor for Organizations Supporting and Leading Refugee Families in Their Time of Need
We practice this by acting as a key sponsor for Exodus Refugee here in Indianapolis. Organizations like this have a long history of welcoming refugees from many countries, cultures, languages, faiths, and political opinions. Exodus Refugee specifically focuses on arranging for housing, food and clothing, and case management, as well as providing education, employment training, health services, and more.
2. Set Up a Matching and Donation Program Through Your Workplace
We are doing a match for World Refugee Awareness month for up to $7,000 going straight to refugees and their families. Programs like this are easy and smart for employees who are trying to find direct ways in which to serve the community around them. Take action — especially during focused months like June — to lead your employees to give to those who need it most.
3. Help Settle a Family in the Process of Moving to Your Area
We at Morales Group helped settle one of the first Syrian families into Indianapolis region. Not only was this a useful way to help out, but it gave us a personal connection and deeper understanding into what these individuals were going through. This may seem daunting at first, but getting connected with groups like Exodus Refugee will allow you to act as a support system and friendly face for those going through a stressful transition.
4. Hire Refugees and Design Training Programs
We have begun hiring some refugees in the area and training them in very practical workplace skills that will be useful in their career development. Other companies are doing the same. CEO of Chobani employs 300 refugee workers in his factories and in January 2017, Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 refugees. Where might your company or organization be able to open doors to train and activate these new workers?
5. Host Refugees in Your Home
If you aren’t able to actively take part in resettling a refugee family, do the next best thing and allow them into your home. This can be as simple as hosting them for a dinner now and then or as in depth as providing a room for them to rest their head while they sort out their next move. Give them a friendly welcome and make them feel comfortable.
6. Host or Run Refugee Celebrations
Many refugee families and communities who have been displaced from their culture do not have the ability or the means in which to hold holiday or religious celebrations, weddings, birthdays, or family events. We have the unique opportunity to offer our spaces, time and resources to hosting celebrations that hold significant meaning for these individuals. Allowing them to enjoy previous comforts is a fantastic way to make them feel more welcome.
7. Tutor Refugees in Your Community and Seek to Encourage Scholarships
Many of these new members to your community lack language and proficiency skills to be able to find good jobs and stable lifestyles. For refugee students, the loss of opportunity to pursue their academics can be devastating. Get involved with local tutoring programs to help teach basic skills or encourage your local universities to offer scholarships to refugee students so they might be able to finish their degrees.
8. Drive Awareness and Mobilize Support
Showing refugees you care is important and coming together to raise support is a fantastic way to make this happen. This approach can come in the form of 5k runs, raffles, support dinners, advocacy rallies and so much more. Use these events to educate your community on the refugee crisis, dispel misunderstandings, and encourage practical ways they can get involved.
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What other ways have you and your employer helped support refugees in your community?