2016 World Refugee Day

Today is World Refugee Day (#worldrefugeeday) and I am asking you to join me in making a small contribution to an organization (your choice) that is making a difference. 

For those of you who might not know, in a former life I worked for the International Rescue Committee in Azerbaijan on a Community Development Project. I worked with “Internally Displaced People” or IDPs. Why IDP? Because you aren’t technically a refugee unless you flee your own country, but there are millions of people who have to flee their towns, and villages around the world. 

I also travelled to Armenia and the Republic of Georgia during my time in the Caucasus. I will never forget how, despite what so many had lost, how resilient and strong these families were. 

Because these refugees aren’t Syrians. Or Sudanese. Or Iraqis. They are families. They are mothers, fathers and children. They are brothers and sisters. 

They don’t live in homes anymore. They live in camps. Or train cars. And those are the lucky ones. There are no schools to speak of. Employment is nonexistent. 

It’s easy to dismiss the flashing images on your smartphone or TV screen as not real, but they are. 

Imagine your town, your country torn apart. No medical care, no rule of law. You have to run, and only the fittest and most determined will survive. 

Take a look at your family. Who would you choose if only half could make it? 

Think that’s sick? 

It. Happens. Every. Day.

This isn’t a movie. It’s real. For the first time ever, the total number of Refugees and Displaced Peoples exceeded 60 million, according to the UNHCR.

There’s not a ton that we can do as onlookers, but one of the best ways to make a difference is to support organizations that are on the ground.

Here are some options for you.

1. You can donate directly to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) online here: http://bit.ly/28IVIXG   This body oversee almost all refugee efforts and is as apolitical as is possible, however it is the organization that funds other organizations…so it’s a step away.

2. Pick a specific organization on the ground using CharityWatch.org — here’s a quick shortcut for you: http://bit.ly/28IRPoS — then go to that organization's website to make a donation.  CharityWatch is independent and rates organizations on financial criteria as well as other facets such as transparency. 

Thanks for reading and for making a difference. 

~ Patrick