World Refugee Day 2016: The Realities

You know that feeling you get when you’re walking home alone, hyper-aware of your surroundings, especially other persons? You know that feeling when the cars in front of your brake suddenly and you must slam on yours as your stomach drops and your knuckles go white? You know that feeling you get as you’re waiting in the doctor’s office to learn of a potentially life-altering prognosis?

Fear. Anticipation. Gut-wrenching lack of security. Vulnerability. Confusion.

Imagine these feelings becoming your norm. Replacing your mundane thoughts about what to have for dinner or when you can catch the next episode of your favorite show. Imagine these replacing feelings of love, comfort, joy, freedom, protection (you know, the feelings we sometimes take for granted).

Close up of a child's eye with reflection of an explosion

Imagine willingly uprooting your life and accepting a stage of unknown chaos in lieu of the horrors in your home, turning your back on the land of your elders, willingly walking along the rocky, often difficult road to asylum. Picture looking around, your heart heavy, your future ability to return home unknown. Envision explaining to your kid that they’re not going to eat or have any semblance of a normal life for awhile.

You know what? You probably can’t accurately imagine these feelings.

It’s hard to empathize with the disturbing human rights violations and horrid living conditions availed to refugees as they make the long journey away from their homes. As we sit in our comfortable lives and chairs and routines thousands of miles away, we can’t even compare our life experiences to the atrocities of migration for refugees, especially for the most vulnerable humans of all: children.

You might find it hard to muster the kinds of emotions that make you want to spring to action, but remember:

They need you. We all need each other.

Forget the news stories with nameless faces and photos of distant-abject suffering. They’re important, but they do little to connect you to the human element of their plight. These are people; people like you and me. People who get excited for their favorite sports teams, people who wink at Grandma when she sneaks you extra treats, people who coo at adorable babies. They’re us. Read their stories and you’ll see.

Help restore their dignity. On this year’s World Refugee Day, help them dream again.

Find ways to give your time to lessen their quandaries. Donate money to on-the-ground organizations who are providing sustenance to the displaced, or opt to go there and do it for yourself. And if/when the time comes when your family or loved ones are unfortunately suffering, you might feel a little lighter or breathe a little easier knowing you can lean on our global family.

Woman giving daughter drink of water

As one front-line journalist, Suzanne Kawmieh, recounted:

A man was also leaning against the fence next to me. His daughter was seated between us. She was young, about 7 years old. She asked for water; she was thirsty. He told her she had to be strong; there was no water. A little while later, she asked again and received the same response. Yet again she asked, and finally her father told her he would ask the guard for some water…Through her tears, I could hear her tell him they should go back to Syria, ‘Better to die by bombs and snipers, but with dignity, than here.’

Get involved – don’t stand by listening to these stories any more.

And today especially, we challenge you to educate someone in your life on the realities of the refugee crisis and important, low-barrier ways for individuals to support its eradication.

Check out this GoAbroad Article on The Cold Hard Truth About Refugee Relief Volunteering Abroad to learn more.

This guest blog post was written by Megan Lee, one of our incredible GAF supporters from