Volunteering Abroad for Refugee Relief
According to UNHCR, there are more than 65.3 million forcibly-displaced people in the world, 21.3 million of whom are refugees who have left their countries of origin. With the recent deluge of people fleeing Syria, the international spotlight sits squarely on the refugee crisis. But it isn't just Syrians who need our help: there are millions of other refugees coming from Somalia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and dozens of other countries, driven away because of civil war or persecution for their political views, ethnicity, or religion.
NGOs and volunteer programs around the globe are constantly looking for people willing to volunteer for refugee relief, as there is still much work to be done to help these migrants find peace and stability. A few ways you can help as a volunteer include:
Teaching English and other subjects to children and adults
Counseling individuals and families and helping them to find education and job opportunities
Caring for children and providing basic support services for families
Providing medical care and health check-ups
Collecting and distributing food and supplies in refugee camps
There are so many ways you can make a difference, both large and small, for families and individuals in great need. To get started, here are nine great opportunities to volunteer abroad with refugees around the world.
Cross-Cultural Solutions - Syrian Refugee Program in Greece
Cross-Cultural Solutions offers volunteers the opportunity to work with migrants and refugees through their Syrian Refugee Program in Greece. You'll be volunteering in refugee camps near Chalkida, a town just north of Athens, and this program places an emphasis on bringing a sense of purpose and renewed dignity to the hundreds of displaced people within temporary camps.
As a volunteer, you will have opportunities to immerse yourself in all aspects of refugee support, including distributing food and supplies, developing camp infrastructure, providing structured activity and lessons for children, or working in female-friendly spaces to provide health information and other services. You'll also have the opportunity to become an Advocate for Refugees, a position in which you'll have the opportunity to put your photography, writing, and marketing skills to good use by telling the stories of these refugees to the world in order to dispel myths and share the realities of their plight.
Projects Abroad - Volunteer Refugee Project in Italy
Projects Abroad operates a volunteer refugee program in Italy, which focuses primarily on supporting the refugee children of Calabria, many of whom arrived in Italy alone. As a volunteer, you'll be working to help these children adapt to their new circumstances by teaching English or Italian, providing child care, helping to run cultural workshops, and leading activities such as sports, music, theater, and computer skills training. You may even have the opportunity to work at Reggio Calabria, a port where boats arrive from Africa. Here, you would help to distribute food, water, clothing, blankets, and other urgently-needed items, and serve as one of the first points of contact for arriving refugees.
Love Volunteers - Refugee Camp in Kenya
In the outskirts of Nairobi, Love Volunteers runs a program for volunteers interested in helping out at a Kenyan refugee camp. This program focuses on supporting the hundreds of thousands of Kenyan families who fled their homes after the 2007 election, eventually becoming Settled Internally Displaced People.
Today, Love Volunteers works toward bettering the lives of these migrants in a variety of ways. During your volunteer program, you can expect to get involved with construction projects, teach schoolchildren, help to develop sustainability programs (such as agricultural projects or water sanitation initiatives), assist with the daily operations of a medical clinic, or even dive into fundraising activities.
Love Volunteers - Community Development and Education in Palestine
Love Volunteers also runs community development and education programs in the city of Nablus in Palestine's West Bank. These programs work closely with many of the refugee camps in the area, and as a volunteer, you would be intimately involved in assisting with a variety of development programs that provide the people of these communities a safe space in which to learn and grow. Whether teaching languages, art, sports, music, computer skills, or other special skills, you'll be making a big difference to refugees whose lives are otherwise marred with violence.
Connect-123 - Human Rights Internships in Cape Town, South Africa
Connect-123 offers tailor-made programs based on your specific interests and abilities. One of their five locations is Cape Town, South Africa, where you'll have the opportunity to take on a human rights internship. Through this internship, you’ll work in partnership with a local NGO to support migrants and refugees through work at refugee centers, orphanages, legal aid clinics, and other organizations that provide much-needed assistance.
Global Leadership Adventures - Spanish Service Adventure
Global Leadership Adventures offers a comprehensive program in which you'll not only sharpen your Spanish language skills, but also explore many of the complex immigration issues facing Spain. On GLA’s Spanish Service Adventure, you'll engage in projects that promote intercultural understanding and respect for diversity while helping immigrants assimilate into Spanish culture. You'll help run a local school's youth summer camp, reinforcing English curriculum through games and activities and promoting concepts of inclusiveness and cross-cultural understanding throughout.
Frontier - Israel Refugee Health Clinic in Tel Aviv
On this program through Frontier, you'll be volunteering at an Israeli refugee health clinic in Tel Aviv that was founded to provide free or subsidized medical assistance to African refugees primarily from Sudan, Eritrea, and the Ivory Coast. While Frontier is primarily in need of volunteer doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, there are a variety of other tasks for those without medical training, including running workshops, creating newsletters, working in reception, and possibly even working alongside doctors to administer healthcare.
Volunteering Journeys - Volunteer Teaching English in Thailand
With Volunteering Journeys, you'll have the opportunity to work with Burmese migrant children on their Volunteer Teaching English in Thailand program. This program works in conjunction with the Burmese Migrant Project and will afford you opportunities to assist in the integration and education of young Burmese migrants.
Rustic Pathways - Dreams of a Nation
On this journey through Thailand and Myanmar, the Dreams of a Nation program guides you on an exploration of complicated issues pertaining to migration and citizenship. You'll meet young refugee students and other migrants, practice responsible journalism while interviewing them, and gain priceless exposure to valuable global concepts on this program through Rustic Pathways.
Ready to Travel?
If you’re ready to make a positive impact and help some of the world’s most vulnerable people, sign up for an account on Volunteer Forever today and begin fundraising for your service trip abroad. For more information about meaningful travel, take a look at these posts: