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). 



ADVICE


When I began to work in developing world fund raising or donating I learnt a few key lessons. 
  1. 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). 
  2. 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.  
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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).
  6. 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 :) 
  7. 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.  
  8. 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.
  9. Don't rush to go to Europe.  (See below - it has its own special para!)



Don't Rush To Go To Europe

First. 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

Twitter: @JoinCalAid

Facebook: Join CalAid

Website: Only FB page at present. 

Their Mission:  "We are a group of volunteers collecting urgently needed donations for those living in the Calais refugee camps. We believe that no person should be without access to basic human rights like shelter and warmth, and by collecting donations we can work to improve these conditions.


"The situation in Calais is part of a wider migration crisis in Europe - caused largely by the displacement of people from war-torn countries such as Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan and Eritrea. In addition to offering support and assistance, we hope to change the perception of this crisis from one of hostility and fear to one of concern and compassion."

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

Support this movement by giving to their JustGiving fundraiser: athttps://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/CalAid



* Help Calais Refugees

Website:  Only FB page at present it seems. Click their FB page here
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-the-Calais-Refugees/949038818490450

Their Mission: "While politicians at best ignore the problem and at worst use desperate refugees as scapegoats for their own failed system, ordinary people say F*** THAT!" 

Seeking: Collections, cash donations. 





* City Sanctuary 


Facebook: TBC


Seeking: Volunteers, spare accommodation, supporters who will pledge their support, cash donations.


Their Mission: "City of Sanctuary is a movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Our goal is to create a network of towns and cities throughout the country which are proud to be places of safety for people seeking sanctuary and helping them integrate into their local communities.
"The City of Sanctuary movement began in October 2005 in Sheffield. In September 2007, with the support of the City Council and over 70 local community organisations, Sheffield became the UK’s first ‘City of Sanctuary’ – a city that takes pride in the welcome it offers to people in need of safety.
"Since then, we have supported the development of over 40 City of Sanctuary initiatives in towns and cities across UK and Ireland. We believe the ‘sanctuary message’ of welcome and inclusion is needed in all spheres of society and as such we are committed to helping schools, universities, health and maternity services, theatres and arts centres, churches and other faith centres, sports, communities, businesses and homes become ‘places of sanctuary’. A key element of these ‘streams of sanctuary’ relationships is awareness raising, telling the true stories of refugees to those who never hear them.
"We enjoy close partnerships with all the major refugee organisations and we are committed to working with them to build a Sanctuary Alliance, a united voice to advocate for refugees in our nations and worldwide who have no voice of their own.
"Through creating a national network of Cities of Sanctuary, we aim to demonstrate the desire of people of goodwill throughout the country for a more just and humane approach to people seeking sanctuary in this country."

Watch their film below. 



* POSITIVE ACTION IN HOUSING - HOST A REFUGEE PROGRAMME


Location: UK

Seeking: Donations, Volunteers, Hosts Offering Temporary Accommodation For Refugees

Their Mission: "We have a database of accommodation volunteers who agree to offer up space in their home to a refugee for a few days, weeks, or even longer. We have a system to ensure destitute refugees and their hosts form the best match, and make the arrangement rewarding for all concerned. We need more volunteers who are prepared to welcome people into their homes, whether you’re in Scotland, or elsewhere in the UK. We can match you with a refugee/s in need."

* DOCTORS OF THE WORLD


Their Mission: "Migrants in and around Calais are living in appalling conditions including pregnant women and very young children, many of them unaccompanied. Many lack essentials such as safe drinking water, adequate food, sanitation and proper shelter. Doctors of the World is the only charity providing medical help on the ground in Calais.  Every donation will help us provide crucial support. Thank you!"
Seeking: Monetary donations. Medics who can volunteer. 


SIGN PETITIONS

* Sign The UK Petition For Parliament (only UK citizens).

Website: Click here. Or cut and paste. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

Seeking: Signatures. 

Their Mission: "There is a global refugee crisis. The UK is not offering proportional asylum in comparison with European counterparts. We can't allow refugees who have risked their lives to escape horrendous conflict and violence to be left living in dire, unsafe and inhumane conditions in Europe. We must help."
Click here.

* Sign The USA Petition For Obama And US Govt. (Only US citizens).

Seeking: Signatures. 

60,000 signatures needed by 30 September so that the US Govt is forced to address the issue of refugees.

Website: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov//petition/authorize-and-resettle-syrian-refugees-us


* Sign Avaaz's global petition (everyone can sign). 


Seeking: Signatures. 

FUND PERSONAL MISSIONS

(If at anytime I discover that there is any misuse of funds or have concerns - then I will delete the links.  Moreover it would be useful to see how funds are used and wonder why fundraisers do not share a breakdown of the amount raised and how they plan to spend it - just a thought I always have....) 

* Soin Sans Frontiers (care without borders) led by Reverend Gary Kennedy 

Website: To donate to Reverend Gary Kennedy's cause click here
or cut and paste: 

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/f128z8/ab/c55BU8

Seeking: Donations.


Their Mission: "We are a community led group who wish to aid those unfortunate refugees who are being forced to flee their homes in (sic) conditions in camp near the port town of Calais France. Every month,we take food and clothing to them but the amount that we can finance ourselves is a drop in the ocean of need there. Everyone one there has a terrible story to tell: Abdul, from Sudan, who is 26; he says his whole village was destroyed by a malitia. “They were all burned with fire,” he says of his fellow villagers, without flinching. His father is dead; his brothers and mother remained in Darfur and he constantly fears for their safety. His reason for wanting to come to England is straightforward: English is one of the official languages in Sudan, which he believes will allow him to establish a life in Britain in a way that would be more difficult in France or Germany.    Only with help from you can we continue to bring a little comfort to people who literally have nothing. thank you and God bless. http://www.news786.in/article.php?id=MTg4OTM%3D#.VcYxKx4-qm8.twitter"

Mohammed Qurban - British Muslim man seeking to go to Turkey.  

Wesbite: Click here

Mohammed's mission: "The money that I will raise will help to fund urgently needed aid (Food,medical supplies & blankets). I will be buying supplies in Turkey with help from IHH and I will personally distribute these to as many refugee camps as possible. As winter is approaching I would also be buying blankets for unsheltered refugees in Istanbul where many refugee children are struggling, lost, cold and alone.

"You will be a part of every step of my journey. I will upload pictures and videos of me with the refugees to keep everyone updated and informed! 
"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. 

Website:  Click here

Or cut and paste:
http://stopwar.org.uk/events/stop-the-war-events-national/12-september-refugees-are-welcome-here-national-day-of-action

Their Mission: "Refugees Welcome Here: Day of Action, National Demonstration 12 September.  Assemble Marble Arch 12 Noon.  March to Downing Street".

2) Refugees Welcome - A peaceful March 19 September in France. Click here.


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. 






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