How Can YOU & I Help Refugees Via Grassroots?
Moved by Aylan Kurdi? So was I. So let's get together good people. Ignore our Governments. Bypass them to go and help the grassroots way.
So much op-eds/articles out there right now. Blah, blah, blah. If you are like me you don't want to read or hear about refugees anymore. You want to DO.
It is hard to know how to help. So this is what my latest post is about. Grassroots activism. Collating links to charities and folks at grassroots struggling to get voice as often are drowned out by the bigger charities (who let us face it have overheads and budgets to spend on PR and marketing). I want this post to support ordinary people who are stepping up to help. As well as thinking about all the options out there you can take to help.
(Photo shows march in London being planned by Stop The War).
Philanthropy rocks. Despite suffering for it and having some horrible things happen when I chose to do it full time - charity at its most basic level is easy, fulfilling and more importantly reminds us of the good that exists in humanity. I know only too well personally how it has made me a better human and woman.
If this is the first time stumbling across me: MsYiY (Miss YasminIsYasmin aka Yasmin Choudhury) here is a quick intro.
I used to be ordinary 9 to 5 worker. Born in London, worked in City. I then noticed and got fed up at how many people still suffering in world. Especially my country of heritage Bangladesh. I realised I had privileges I can use to help.
I had education, computer and professional skills, a bit of money (left to me by my late dad whose pleas all his life was for me to help developing world but it always fell on my cloth ears). Since 2012 I have single handedly spent this money setting up Lovedesh & Amcariza Foundation. My own website where you read this post and YouTube channel shares my personal stories about the challenges and nightmares I faced and am facing as a Londoner and British female social entrepreneur trying to bring about change in Bangladesh. How Muslim businesswomen like me suffer from misogyny, having spent a lifetime of being force fed a bad version of Islam and are not encouraged and supported to be philanthropic. As well as the battle I am facing from within my very own family and community who want to stop me empowering poor folks out in Bangladesh.
Thankfully helping refugees should be easier. I was so moved by Aylan Kurdi, the horror suffered by Yazidis, the situation caused by US & UK foreign policies of interfering and the consequential civil wars in the Middle East to massacres in Central African Republic and how ordinary, innocent people's lives rocked and destroyed. As well as trying to work out how I rescue my own projects I now also want to help in any way I can.
I decided to share my own research of groups and associations across UK & Europe where you and I can help. As well as good articles to help you read up on people and organisations who are helping refugees.
I also am working out how to use my own house to help refugees or folks in need. Currently rented out but if anyone has any ideas - holler. As for some time realised screw worrying over money. Money will come to good souls. It is the universe's way of helping out good hearts who do good who one day might end up in need.
Back to what can be done by YOU & ME - NOW.
We can either:
1. Fund/Donate to organisations or personal missions (see below).
2. Collate/collect items needed by refugees and drop off to collection points.
3. Volunteer to organise a drop off point, help sort collections or fundraise.
4. Sign petitions that will be considered by Governments - if you are a UK or American citizen (scroll below).
5. Become a Host who offers accommodation to a refugee or his/herfamily
6. Attend peaceful protests and marches to show we care.
7. Change career and become an activist - someone who works in global development (not to be taken lightly trust me as I did it and wish I knew back then what I know now but do not let that put you off).
- Think long and hard about the organisation you donate to. Make sure you research and read up on the organisation you want to donate to (as this is all my research but I give no guarantees).
- Don't take in strangers unless they come via vetted organisations such as City Sanctuary (see below) - also there may be house insurance risks. Refugees who come into your home are still strangers unless you work with organisations like City Sanctuary - check with charities first who can be in a position to help them. Seek advice and guidance.
- Be careful with your money. Once gone it is harder to get it back especially as likes of Charities Commission will unlikely help you to get money back. But if it goes to a great cause you will feel happy knowing you got it to folks who really needed it.
- Ignore the racists and anti-refugee or even those family and friends who might dissuade you or try to discourage you. Every bit helps. It is your money and you can spend it how you want surely?
- Try to use spare money to donate and if charity begins at home for you - then you stick with that. And if you have no spare money and still want to help plenty of option below - you can find other non-monetary ways to help on this post (such as signing petition or going on a peaceful protest march).
- Nobody can force you to donate or support a cause you don't believe in. Or perhaps wish to take interest in. If someone does not support or wish to donate to the refugee cause do not judge and leave them alone . They may be suffering their own hardship, already helping or funding another charitable cause -so please remember that. You and I must focus on our individual actions not anyone else's. And if someone wants to be miserly - than also that is their call - but often notice that the reason why they are also miserable people as they tend to lack friends - hence the vicious circle ensues - ha ha :)
- Connect with like minded souls. It helps bring a smile as you realise that many good souls are out there just like you. Who you can share or exchange your passion for your cause with. And who feel the way you do.
- Smile if you ever meet a refugee. Heck we should all smile at each other anyway. Whether at a refugee or not. Often we forget that smiling helps and should you ever meet a refugee than the simple "Welcome and know that we as a citizen of this nation welcome you". A rural villager in Bangladesh once taught me that even if she herself is poor - a smile costs nothing. You can watch her tell me this in this film I made here.
- Don't rush to go to Europe. (See below - it has its own special para!)
Don't Rush To Go To EuropeFirst. Some advice. Be very careful about heading out to Calais or leaving your home.
The situation can turn out to be volatile, fraught with challenges for those who are new and you may end up disrupting or duplicating the hard work planned by charities on the ground. You may also be overwhelmed and unprepared to deal with the grief or issues that these poor refugees have experienced - some suffer genocide, rape, abuse and may not always be the gentle, weepy stereotype (as after all refugees have every right to be angry, upset or at their wits end). It is why do not venture out alone but work within a charitable framework who can protect the refugees and you.
MSYIY CURATED LIST OF GRASSROOTS LED ORGANISATIONS HELPING REFUGEES(Disclaimer: please note I am not responsible for guaranteeing how they work and how funds are spent. Check the charity status of each of the organisations below. Ensure you undertake valid checks and if you are aware of any concerns - feel free to comment below. Also no racist or anti-refugee comments please. Take your hate elsewhere. Thank you.)
* Cal Aid
Seeking: Donations of cash, clothes, volunteers, graphic designers (more about the latter here).
'Refugees Welcome' - A peaceful March 19 September in France. Click here.
Their Sept 20 Donation drop off day is here
* Help Calais RefugeesWebsite: Only FB page at present it seems. Click their FB page here.
Seeking: Collections, cash donations.
* City Sanctuary
Seeking: Volunteers, spare accommodation, supporters who will pledge their support, cash donations.
Watch their film below.
* POSITIVE ACTION IN HOUSING - HOST A REFUGEE PROGRAMME
Seeking: Donations, Volunteers, Hosts Offering Temporary Accommodation For Refugees
* DOCTORS OF THE WORLD
* Sign The UK Petition For Parliament (only UK citizens).
* Sign The USA Petition For Obama And US Govt. (Only US citizens).
* Sign Avaaz's global petition (everyone can sign).
FUND PERSONAL MISSIONS
* Soin Sans Frontiers (care without borders) led by Reverend Gary KennedyWebsite: To donate to Reverend Gary Kennedy's cause click here
or cut and paste:
"I need you to help me start off my journey of peace and together we will restore their shattered hearts and broken smiles, one step at a time!"
ATTEND A PEACEFUL MARCH
1) Stop the War 12 March, Marble Arch London to Downing Street.
GOOD ARTICLES (more to follow).
1. 4 Sept 2015. The Guardian: "What is the most effective way to help refugees?"
By William MacAskill
Read more here.
2. # Sept 2015. The Guardian "Refugee Crisis; What Can You Do To Help." By Matthew Weaver.
Read More Here.