What You Can Do About The Refugee Crisis
Reported by Ana Imes
On Nov. 27, George Fox University (GFU) students Megan Cecil, Evangelina Montelongo, Regan Hill and Meghan Elford hosted a documentary showing of “Soufra” as part of their participation in a social change class. “Soufra” is an uplifting film about a group of women in a refugee camp in Lebanon who overcome countless obstacles and start a catering company. Following the documentary showing was a brief presentation about how GFU students can get involved in refugee crisis relief.
“A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence,” Cecil explained. He or she “has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group,” Elford added.
The students emphasized the lack of power of the refugees to make decisions regarding where to go and how to get there. Oppression and persecution greatly restrict their options.
“In the year 2017 alone, Oregon received 1,340 refugees,” Hill stated. “These individuals go on to work, attend universities, build professions, purchase homes, raise children and contribute to their communities,” she said. She explained that although refugees sometimes need help getting started, the skills they bring are beneficial to their new community.
The job of helping refugees start new lives may seem overwhelming, but “college students can help,” Montelongo encouraged. She explained that anybody who can donate money, drive a car or volunteer their time can make a difference.
A short-term local opportunity for GFU students is the Portland 101 Immersion Trip from March 1-3, 2019, hosted by GFU’s Spiritual Life (SpiL) Department. If you are interested in helping with refugee resettlement, helping refugees make sponsor connections or general refugee empowerment in the Portland-Metro area, you can find out more about these long-term volunteer opportunities at https://www.refvolpdx.org/an-organization/.
If you would rather make a difference overseas, there will be a trip to Israel and Palestine in May 2019, also hosted by SpiL. Contact the SpiL office at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.