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.
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