Monday, January 25, 2016

The Now What



By Colette Whitney

What a week we had in Rome, Italy learning about how Italy and the European Union is handling the refugee crisis and the different kinds of services they provide to them. What an inspiration to see all the good people willing to help these refugees with open arms during the worst time of their lives. These organizations are helping to build a safe community where the refugees can start a new and happier life. The course is over, but the refugee crisis is not. So now what? We can go home to our friends and families and share what we learned and talk about the great organizations we all got to meet. Though, it is good to talk about the Refugee issue and educate the people around us, we as a cohort still feel that we need to do more. But what can we do? What is available here in the Bay Area that can help make a positive impact and how can everyone pitch in and help?

There are multiple organizations in the Bay Area where you can volunteer or donate to help support the Refugees in their new home. Here are a few options:

International Rescue Committee- North America:

IRC is a large organization that has two Bay area Locations, one in San Jose and one in Oakland. There are multiple ways of getting involved some including: teaching english, becoming a mentor, providing career advice, and providing support for administration and finance. You can find more information here: Oakland- http://www.rescue.org/us-program/us-northern-california-ca/volunteer-opportunities-irc-oakland SanJose- http://www.rescue.org/us-program/us-northern-california-ca/san-jose-volunteer-opportunities

Refugee Transitions (RT)

RT is a small nonprofit based out of San Francisco that helps refugees from over 50 countries.
Their volunteer activity is tutoring for 6-9 months with one assigned student. You can find more information about becoming a tutor here: http://www.reftrans.org/apply/

Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants (CERI)

CERI is a small nonprofit based out of Oakland and their mission is to “improve the social, psychological & economic health of refugees affected by war, torture, genocide or other forms of extreme trauma.” Their volunteer activities include becoming a tutor or mentor or you can donate supplies like arts and crafts or technology. You can find more information about these options here: http://cerieastbay.org/web3/help.php

These are just three organizations you can help out but there are many more all over the bay that you can find by doing a quick Google search. Volunteering with programs like these can be very rewarding. You will get the opportunity to learn about different cultures, make new friends and help better somebody's life. A big theme for the week of the AGI course was community and making people feel a part of something. We can all do that by getting involved and expanding our networks and circle of friends. The next steps are taking the time to gather your friends and family and pick a day to volunteer.