Why become a volunteer? Opportunities with Refugees…

According to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, there are more than 65 million forcibly displaced persons in the world right now. That’s higher than the population of most nations! Although the Syrian refugee crisis has been prominent in the mainstream media recently, there are people fleeing from other countries like Burma, Burundi, Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, North Korea, and Somalia.

Most of them are driven out by war or political or religious persecution. Refugees form a sizable population of people in need, that means there’s much work to be done for those willing to step up and volunteer. Volunteers can be critical aids in helping refugees integrate into a new culture or improving the quality of life in refugee camps themselves.

Tasks of a volunteer

The kind of work you could become involved in is diverse and could include jobs like teaching English, counseling, helping individuals and families find education and job opportunities, providing child care or basic support services for families, helping provide medical care, and even potentially collecting and distributing food or supplies in camps or just socialize and give them a sense of being part of society again.

Where to work?

The best way of finding a volunteer position is, to decide first who you want to help and where, then research which organizations work with that population. After that, you generally apply to volunteer directly with an individual NGO or charity. There are generally two possibilities of being involved as a volunteer:

1) Resettlement activities

Resettlement activities could be for example: pairing a volunteer up with an individual or a family and making a commitment to being a local resource for them who can help them navigate the everyday things from learning to use a computer to shop for food.

2) In-camp activities

These activities would involve things like handing out food or water, providing basic healthcare, teaching, and helping refugees prepare to leave the camp prior to actually resettling abroad. If you have a background in medicine, providing professional medical services would be a very important contribution.