On Sunday, we were read a prophetic call-to-action to do more to help the world’s refugees. The Lord’s command – as emphasized by Elder Holland – that the “[poor] shall not suffer” comes quickly to mind. But what are some ways we can practically heed this call?
Contributing to the Church’s own humanitarian efforts is, of course, the first and most clear way to assist, as was indicated in the above-mentioned letter. Church humanitarian efforts provide both direct material relief to people in need as well as assistance to other relevant international and local organizations. And of course we can be confident that funds administered by LDS Charities will be shepherded well. LDS Charities also recently offered a great practical list of things we can do to help refugees at home and abroad, which can help us think about how to carry out the instruction to “participate in local relief projects, where practical.”
When it comes to these “local relief projects,” we should recognize that Church-sponsored efforts alone cannot meet the diverse needs of literally millions of refugees around the world. With this in mind, we may consider supporting a number of other efforts that are working to alleviate suffering. Doctors Without Borders (MSF), for example, provides absolutely vital medical care to people in conflict zones and refugee camps. Money donated to MSF will do a lot of good for a lot of people.
The International Rescue Committee, a world leader in effective refugee assistance, is another organization that deserves a look. IRC has been leading efforts to provide direct cash transfers to refugees. Before you balk, note that a great deal of research and good thinking (see here and here also) substantiates the direct-giving approach in humanitarian crises. What would you want – a free blanket, or some cash that would let you buy what you and your family really needed? Beyond those two examples, a number of other groups are doing really important work on the ground — check out this vetted list of initiatives by Global Giving for more examples.
My point is that there are a lot of ways we can use our resources to help refugees right now, and a lot of organizations working to address the many diverse challenges that displaced people face. In our effort to follow prophetic instructions, let’s think about all of the ways that we can support various efforts at home and internationally to alleviate suffering and offer new beginnings.