Mormon Channel Blog

40 Ways to Help Refugees in Your Community

September 9, 2015

Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about how many people in the world are in need—how many live without food or clean water, how many don’t have access to necessary medical care, and how many lack basic shelter.

We hear amazing stories about people going abroad to alleviate some of these needs, but sometimes we forget how much we can do in our own communities. There are 50 million refugees worldwide, but they don’t just live in refugee camps; many are relocated to other countries where they can have a fresh start. They live in places you might not expect. For example, there are nearly 70,000 refugees in Salt Lake City, Utah, and around 9,000 in Boise, Idaho. And this number is constantly growing as many new people move in each year, such as the 2,000–3,000 people that San Diego welcomes yearly.

These individuals have undergone tremendous difficulties and are starting over in a new country and culture. While there are organizations that help them with a place to live and basic necessities, what they need is a friend and ally who can help them acclimate to their new home, a person who can help them learn the language, understand the systems, and feel connected.

Recently Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, shared 40 ways to reach out to refugees in your own community. Although simple, they could mean all the difference to the neighbors you befriend.

  1. Be a sincere friend.
  2. Reach out to people on the periphery.
  3. Take a stand against intolerance.
  4. Promote compassion and understanding.
  5. Make a visit.
  6. Get to know firsthand what is really needed; don’t assume.
  7. Learn about the food, holidays, and traditions of others.
  8. Share a meal.
  9. Celebrate a holiday together.
  10. Invite someone to join your family night.
  11. Teach a new skill.
  12. Learn a new skill.
  13. Make introductions.
  14. Ask questions.
  15. Exchange ideas and experiences.
  16. Highlight strengths in other cultures.
  17. Speak to your town council about needed services.
  18. Forgive offenses or misunderstandings and try again.
  19. Shop at locally owned businesses.
  20. Welcome new people to the neighborhood.
  21. Volunteer to teach a language.
  22. Defend others from bigotry.
  23. Learn kids’ names.
  24. Learn a sport.
  25. Teach a sport.
  26. Offer employment to someone unexpected.
  27. Visit people who are ill.
  28. Teach each other songs and jokes.
  29. Extend an invitation to a cultural event.
  30. Offer to babysit.
  31. Give a ride.
  32. Practice interviewing for a job.
  33. Donate household goods.
  34. Help children study.
  35. Act as a grandma or grandpa to someone whose family is far away.
  36. Volunteer with a local organization whose work you admire.
  37. Be a mentor.
  38. Find local solutions rather than relying on bureaucratic programs or funds.
  39. Recognize that time and relationships are more valuable than things.
  40. Don’t hesitate to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

This list is just a start as you consider ways you can connect with your neighbors who might be feeling lonely or out of place. Be creative, and use your own personal interests and talents to touch others in meaningful ways. Although your initial interactions may be uncomfortable, they can lead to positive and even life-changing relationships.

To learn more about ways to serve in your own community and abroad, visit justserve.org

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