June 20th, World Refugee Day.
World Refugee Day reminds us all to think carefully about what we can do for the refugee communities in our midst. So many people have the heart to help, but have no idea how or where to start. Here are 4 practical ways you can show support to the refugees in your communities this #WorldRefugeeDay.
The first thing you can do is to be informed. Understand the global refugee crisis, and keep up to date as best as you can about what is going on. A great way to do this is to subscribe to UNHCR’s daily digest – an easy, digestible roundup of global news goes straight to your inbox every day.
To frame the issue closer to home, visit your country’s UNHCR website to find out how many refugees there are in your country. Find out if your country Is a signatory to the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the two key instruments safeguarding refugee interests. If you feel like your country is not doing as much as it should, write a letter to your Member of Parliament to tell them how much this issue matters to you.
Support refugees in earning an income.
Donations and sponsorships are incredibly invaluable in helping out refugee families, but it is just as important to support them in earning income that will change their lives in the long run. Might you be in the committee for organising a bazaar? Offer refugee artisans/ artisan groups courtesy booths to sell their goods.
There are also many organisations that are working to create sustainable livelihoods for refugee communities, like what we are doing through our Earth Heir X MADE51 collection, and what Picha Project is doing through sharing traditional food cooked by refugees.
Often, the most valuable thing to give is your time. NGOs supporting refugees are often shorthanded and underfunded. Volunteer your skills, whatever they are. You could be a language teacher, or a ceramicist. If you are a qualified accountant, you could offer pro bono service. If you love football, find out if you can teach football at a refugee school. IDEAs academy: http://www.ideasacademy.org.my/volunteer/
Malaysian Social Research Institute: https://msri.org.my/lets-volunteer/
Write a letter to a refugee child
Letters of Love is a fantastic youth-led initiative, run by passionate youths around the world. Volunteer translators handwrite a translation of your short messages with colourful drawings on cards, and distribute them to Syrian, Iraqi, Yazidi, Palestinian and Rohingya refugee children, to remind them that they are loved and supported. They have already delivered over 30000 cards. Send a letter of love today!
Can you commit to doing at least one of these four things today?