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World Refugee Day – 20 June 2008

 

World Refugee Day is tomorrow, June 20th 2008.  It’s a time where around the globe the simple message is given to the millions and millions of refugees, past, present, and even future –“Never give up hope”.

 

It seems to have been a difficult 12 months for many countries – the ongoing war in Iraq; ongoing war in Afghanistan; ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict; weeks of anti-government protests and killings in Burma; the ongoing war in Darfur, also known as the Darfur Genocide; deadly riots in Kenya after its presidential election; China’s Monk protest in Tibet; inflation rates of 100,000% in Zimbabwe.  And who can forget the most recent natural disasters in both Burma and China, where EACH country has seen up to 100,000 people dead and millions more displaced.

And this was all since the last World Refugee Day!

 

If you haven’t gone to hide under your pillow by now, you should also be made aware of all the world is doing in response to these situations.  International agencies are stepping in as best they can; international non-governmental organizations are delivering aid and services, countries are donating millions and millions of dollars in aid, and opening up their own borders to accept refugees.

 

But perhaps best of all, individuals all around the world are donating their hard earned money in hopes of making a difference.  They’re sending their money to agencies, to organizations, foundations, and friends.  They’re supporting children, women, men, families.  They’re feeding stomachs, rebuilding houses, rebuilding lives.  Not everyone is lucky enough to resettle to the ‘west’.  Not everyone is lucky enough to be considered a refugee.  Many more are displaced in their own country, or live as migrants in bordering countries, trying to make a life for themselves and their family.  They are trying to survive.

 

Currently Room to Grow Foundation is supporting four dormitories in two refugee camps.  We’ve also decided to expand our operations outside the camp, to support two other groups – the migrants and the internally displaced.

 

There are two projects we’ve decided to fundraise for:

  • one is a dormitory right at the border (about 5 hrs from here) with 20 internally displaced children, who attend a school on the same premises.
  • the other is for a project called Agape, based in Mae Sot right near the border, to support the needs of 35 very young migrant children, whose parents are unable to care for them due to their financial situation.  They also attend school on their dormitory premises, taught and cared for by volunteers.  They have no walls on their dorms and currently the boys have to sleep in the school for extra protection against the worsening rain during this season.

With the rice prices literally doubled, and the inflation and general increase in food and fuel costs, it’s increasingly difficult for these projects to exist on their intermittent private donations. We’re hoping to help them out with that.

 

We all know that money comes and goes.  And once it’s spent, it’s gone.  And it will come back to us.  So I would urge you to think carefully about what you spend your money on.  What would be the equivalent of a few DVDs, a sweater from Jacob, a night out for two, can make all the difference in the world to others – it would feed them, shelter them from wind, rain and mosquitos, bathe them, and most of all, energize their spirits and give them hope.

 

After all, isn’t that what World Refugee Day is all about?

 

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