(If you’ve attended one of my talks and are looking for the handout, WAYS YOU CAN HELP REFUGEES IN GREECE as donors or volunteers, it’s duplicated at the bottom of this web page.)
In league with international partners, I write about and conduct qualitative research in communities suffering from economic inequities, health disparities, social injustice and related challenges. Projects and partners have been focused on Haiti and, more recently, the Syrian diaspora.
My primary partnership addressing “wicked” problems in the international arena is with the Arizona-based Interprofessional Studio for Complexity Thinking (www.intersct.com ).
Our joint research paper, A Conversation with Calamity; Shedding light on the plight of Syrian refugees, was published in the Journal of Health and Human Experience in April, 2016, followed by Starting From Zero: An Exploration of Contemporary Issues in Haiti, one year later. The Haiti research led to a presentation to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women by my co-authors in March, 2016. Our Syrian refugee work led to a research trip to Athens, Greece in March, 2017, which led to the publication of our paper, Cultural and Structural Violence in the Lives of Syrian Refugees (October, 2017).
I also currently serve as an advocate for the first Syrian refugees in Eugene, Oregon, as part of the
If you’re looking for ways to help overseas, there are a multitude of worthy private non-profits you can support, some of which I’ve connected with in one way or another and can gladly vouch for, including:
Lifting Hands International — a humble private non-profit cobbled together by Hayley Smith, a young woman who flew to Greece to do what she could, and ended up providing extensive support for Yazidi refugees in the north, as well as Syrian refugees in Athens, on the island of Chios and in an ever-growing number of other locations throughout the Middle East.
Hayley’s group has done an amazing amount of work in just a couple years, providing:
- Food, library, women’s center, & classes for 500+ Iraqi Yazidis.
- Two containers of aid to Lebanon, Lesvos and Serbia.
- Funds for refugee-run kitchens.
- 1,100 pair of boots for Moria camp in Greece.
- 6,000 pairs of underwear for refugees in Calais.
- 6 weeks’ worth of food for Lavrion camp.
- Several week’s food for Athens “squats”.
- 368 volunteers and supplies to set up 83 incoming refugee apartments in AZ.
. She also, personally, has a phenomenal capacity to connect with refugees.
Hayley joined up with the InterSCT team in April, 2017, serving as a phenomenal guide through the refugee world in Greece. The trip was underwritten by the University of Newcastle, Australia. (By the way, those are falafels she’s holding up, cooked by Syrian refugees on the island of Chios.)
Additional groups we were honored to cross paths with in Greece include:
Other programs I can vouch for in far-flung places include:
Tibetan Home of Hope is another shoestring operation doing great things. “Tibetan Home of Hope is a nonsectarian home and school for children who would otherwise be abandoned. It is a home where young people receive loving care, education, food, shelter, medical attention and the practical foundation needed to develop into independent adults with a full appreciation of their Tibetan heritage. A vital component to our mission is our dedication to the sustainability of the Tibetan people, their culture and the balance of nature.”
Friendship with Cambodia. Friendship with Cambodia has been active since 1992, initially through collaboration between Bhavia Wagner and Valentina DuBasky. Bhavia and Valentina led a tour to Cambodia in 1994 and were UN observers during the national election in 1998. Since then they have given hundreds of talks, interviews and written articles about Cambodia. In 2002, Soul Survivors – Stories of Women and Children in Cambodia by Bhavia (author) and Valentina (photographer) was published. On September 27, 2003 Friendship with Cambodia was incorporated as a non-profit. Since then, Friendship has continued the good work begun by Bhavia and Valentina. We have helped landmine victims and poor women in Cambodia market their handicrafts in the US. We started a sponsorship program for children to attend school in Cambodia. And Friendship leads tours to Cambodia. Friendship with Cambodia was inspired by the charitable humanitarian work of Mother Teresa, Mata Amritanandamayi, Thich Nhat Hanh and Maha Ghosananda. We choose to focus on Cambodia because the need there is so great. Please join us in our effort to offer kindness. We are a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible.
Mercy Corps — an international organization that does incredible work. Their mission is to “Alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.”
Medecins Sans Frontieres — Another amazing international group that does outstanding work, with a medical focus.
Foundation for Peace — This group facilitates short term volunteer projects for groups or individuals in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Kenya. I joined them in Port au Prince in 2015 and was impressed by their operation. Here’s a recent note from them:
The coast of Haiti was the hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew, but people in other areas of Haiti are also desperate for help.
The Foundation for Peace is doing assessments in the small villages of Ganthier. Relief teams are being prepared to go and help with the clean-up, rebuilding and re-planting.
FFP staff digging out the mud and debris in a flooded home.
Last weekend, the FFP Haiti and DR staff worked together with partner Water at Work MInistry. Kristi Hamner brought the emergency water systems to Haiti from the DR and Michel Valentin assembled his staff for the necessary training. A generator and fuel were bought with the funds you supplied. People received purified water, for good health and cholera prevention. The system will be deployed in various communities by our staff, including some that can only be reached on foot.
WAYS YOU CAN HELP REFUGEES IN GREECE
as donors or volunteers
LIFTING HANDS INTERNATIONAL www.liftinghandsinternational.org
Recently provided 500 Iraqi Yazidis in Northern Greece with decent food, a library and a women’s center; provided shipping containers of supplies to refugees in Lebanon, Lesvos & Serbia; funded refugee-run kitchens, provided boots, clothing, eyeglasses, & food for squats in Athens. Back in Arizona, in the U.S., their 368 volunteers have advocated and arranged apartments for 83 refugees. LHI also works with Utah-based Helping Hands for Relief and Development, sending goods to Jordan and Lebanon. LHI collects, sorts, & packs essential items into boxes; then HHRD ships and distributes. Also check out https://www.crowdrise.com/mk4refugees/fundraiser/nixons4refugees
CHIOS EASTERN SHORE RESPONSE TEAM www.greekislandvolunteers.com
Doctors, nurses, midwifes etc. are especially needed. See the Medics for Greece Facebook page.
Interpreters/Translators who speak Arabic, Dari, Greek and other languages can be helpful.
General help unpacking, food distribution, etc.
A DROP IN THE OCEAN www.drapenihavet.no/en/our-work/
Operates in mainland and island refugee camps. Services include preparing & distributing thousands of meals daily, women’s centers, mother-child centers, kids’ activities, clothing collection and distribution.
THE DIRTY GIRLS OF LESVOS ISLAND www.dirtygirlsoflesvos.com/
This group runs a mammoth free laundry/recycling service for discarded refugees’ clothes and blankets.
BE AWARE AND SHARE www.baas-schweiz.ch/
This group runs two awesome schools (one primary, one secondary) on the island of Chios. They may be easier to reach through their Facebook page or through www.Greekislandvolunteers.com
MORE GREAT RESOURCES:
Volunteering in Athens https://www.facebook.com/groups/AthensVolunteersInformation/
Personal greetings from refugees on the Greek islands, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XorCsE2nt1s
Video of one Syrian woman’s journey to Europe https://www.facebook.com/theguardian/videos/10155769508626323/?fref=mentions
Super-easy way to donate: Select charity of your choice at smile.amazon.com . Whenever you make a purchase, amazon will make a donation at no cost to you.
Buy goats for refugees at https://donorbox.org/goats-for-syrian-bedouin-refugees-in-jordan-1
Local efforts in Lane County / The Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County: http://www.ccslc.org/get-involved-with-the-refugee-program/
RECOMMENDED READING OR VIEWING:
Refuge, by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Inside Syria, by Reese Erlich; The Morning They Came For Us, by Janine Di Giovanni; The New Odyssey; The story of the twenty-first-century refugee crisis, by Patrick Kingsley. Online, a UNHCR Overview of the Syrian catastrophe: www.searchingforsyria.org. Are You Syrious daily briefings: https://medium.com/@AreYouSyrious ;, Nujeen: One Girl’s Incredible Journey from War-Torn Syria in a Wheelchair, by Nujeen Mustafa. Interesting Viewing: How to Defeat ISIS using an Unexpected Resource | Alia Braley | TEDxSalem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT0vlu2y9cc&app=desktop Skype tutoring with Arabic native speaking refugees in Europe: https://natakallam.com