After sharing countless times for the past two years that there are 65 million refugees around the world, I was reading the latest statement today.
The number has now risen to 68.5 million refugees. I was shocked beyond words.
Today is World Refugee Day - a day to bring more awareness to people that this alarming number is more than enough to form a country. A day to remind all of us that we need to wake up and start realising the severity of this situation, and actively be part of the solution.
Besides refugee issues, there are many other social needs around the world - poverty, environmental crisis, mental illness, animal abuse, and the list goes on. The world seems to be spiralling downwards, but if we put our minds into it, act fast and act efficiently, I believe that we can make it spiral upwards again together.
After taking part in several different programmes and competitions, I’m extremely grateful to know that there are many amazing souls out there, working tirelessly to alleviate different issues in their own countries. They are heroes working silently to make the world a better place, heroes who see a need and act on it immediately, heroes who humbly improve themselves to improve more lives.
This World Refugee Day, how can you also make a great change in a sustainable manner?
Let us think deeper on how we can play a role in building a better ecosystem for all organisations who are tackling different issues locally and globally - whether you are an individual, an NGO, a corporation, a private society, or even a child - we can all work together to make a greater impact.
#1 - Volunteer consistently and DO NOT choose who to “help”
There are many people who need help, especially in the area of education, whether they are kids, adults, refugees, orphans, homeless, etc.. Education is the key to get them out of poverty and you, YES YOU, who can read this blog means you are quite well-versed, and can probably give 2 hours of your time a week to educate someone.
There is no fixed “subjects” to be taught. Have a skill? Teach them. Good in healthcare knowledge? Educate them. Good in painting? Show and guide them. Education isn’t just teaching english, math, and science - it is constant learning that can add value to someone’s life.
However, whenever you volunteer, give a time frame to it. We know we can get too busy when it comes to volunteering, so giving yourself a time-frame helps you to achieve better (example : 2 hours a week for 2 months). It also helps you to set clearer milestones and plan lessons effectively for your student.
ONE IMPORTANT NOTE: Please DO NOT choose who you want to “help”. Sometimes, I have people asking me if they can volunteer to teach a refugee. Don’t choose and keep your mind so fixed on helping one particular community. There might be child right in front of you who struggles academically but can’t afford tuition classes, there might be a cat starving daily at your gate, there might be an old-folks home in your neighbourhood that need some extra lessons - reach out to them. Reach out to those closest to you first. Don’t bother “helping” others when you don’t even act when a need is right in front of your eyes.
If you can confidently say that there’s no social need around your area, then yes please, Picha needs volunteers to teach English to our mothers who are eager to learn, and kids who still can’t go to school yet - do give us a ring.
Remember, once again, EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO GET OUT OF THE CYCLE OF POVERTY.
#2 - Support Organisations and GIVE THEM FEEDBACKS
Many organisations exist to alleviate different issues, from non-profit organisations to social enterprises, we are here to fight for different causes. Some organisations are trying to have a business model to sustain their work, SUPPORT them. Buy products and services from them, think of ways to incorporate their goods into your corporate gifts, birthday gifts, baby-shower gifts, etc.
However, do not just support blindly for the sake of the cause, provide feedbacks when there is a need of improvement.
Constructive feedbacks are very important to organisations in order to improve their model and sustain longer. How’s the price point like? How’s the service or the product? What are your preferences? Is the website helpful or user-friendly?
If the organisations are open to your feedback, they will definitely improve and accelerate faster, and be empowered to create greater impact to the community.
If you own a company, share your resources too, it is also a form of support! Share your space, share your system, share your knowledge, share your equipments, share your connections. After all, we are all trying our best to fight for a better world, it wouldn’t hurt to share resources with organisations who are striving to make a change.
#3 - Spread awareness about the cause that you’re fighting for
If you are fighting for something that you believe in, ask a company or a school if you can give a sharing about your work. Companies or schools are usually open to it, because it is extra knowledge for their employees or students. Oh, don’t sit there thinking nobody wants to hear you speak, just get up and make that phone call, and ask. Try asking 10 companies/schools - the worst that can happen is them saying no - it doesn’t kill.
When you get a yes from a company/school, build a good story with facts and numbers to support why you are fighting for the cause. Always speak from your heart. Be honest and open. This World Refugee Day, we are so glad that FAVE opened their doors when we asked, and welcomed us to share about our work with their team. All you need to do is ask! 🙂
Thank you, FAVE, for having us! <3
#4 - Celebrate the RIGHT thing
This World Refugee Day, let us remember the war and persecutions that are happening around the world that is causing tremendous amount suffering and pain to families, let us not forget millions of people who have to leave their homes to seek for refuge in a foreign land. This day is not a celebration. It is a call for more awareness towards this global humanitarian crisis, and a wake up call to us that we need to act faster to address this issue.
Choose your words wisely and carefully when organising events in conjunction with World Refugee Day. Remember, no one wants to be a refugee, it seriously IS NOT a celebration.
If you have read this article and resonate with me on this World Refugee Day, share this so that we can raise more awareness together and build a better ecosystem to address this need.
Remember, YOU, YES YOU can make a difference too.