By Ashley Scarbrough – Guest Blogger
Ashley Scarbrough is a professional wedding and portrait photographer, as well as a photojournalist. She has traveled all over the world – across Europe, Latin America, and Central America. Through her writing and her photography, she works to tell the stories of those often forgotten or overlooked.
For more information on WrittenShutter, Ashley’s professional photography company, you can visit her website, or check out her Facebook page.
Late that night, after the sun sank into the ground, the children pranced over to their huts. The village was hushed and the fire’s glow had been reduced to glistening embers. Only a few hours into the night, a woman wakes up to the smell of burning wood and waste. Next thing she knows, she hears a neighbor’s cry. As she peeks outside her hut, the woman watches her village burn. She grabs her children and a few bits of food. For the next several days, she walks toward the border with her three children beside her.
What will happen to the family? With your eyes glued to the screen, you forget how much time has passed. That YouTube video only lasted a few minutes, but it seemed like hours. In my last blog post, I covered the horror and tragedy that plague the lives of many refugees. We got a glimpse of their journey and the strength it takes to fight for another day. But in the movie The Good Lie, which is based on a true story, we discovered not just how we can make a difference for refugees, but also how they can make a difference in our own lives. How can we come alongside these refugees and help them, like Carrie Davis did? How can they empower and encourage us? Whether refugees live one neighborhood over, in the same state, or far off in another country, they can transform the way you see the world.
1. Stay informed.
You can live in a town of fifty people and still have your world rocked. Just connect to the Internet and check out the following websites. Organizations all across the globe provide newsletters and informational resources to keep you informed. Some of these resources include the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which provides news and various resources that allow us to help them. You can sign up for their email updates by clicking here. Other organizations like Refugees International and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants give displaced people a voice as they tell their stories.
2. Think About It.
Think about the scattered people. Let their fight for hope, their determination for a new life, and their years of persistence motivate you on days when it seems impossible to get out of bed. Call your husband, wife, sister, brother, best friend, or children and spread the word. Whether you casually tell a few friends or formally address a group in your community, you can infuse your life and the lives of the scattered peoples with hope.
3. Get active online.
When your alarm buzzes, do you spend a few minutes checking Facebook as you brew your coffee? Does your News Feed make you wish you had the glamorous, happy-go-lucky lives of friends? Maybe your News Feed dampens your mood, but what if you changed what popped up on your Home Page each morning? Follow the organizations mentioned above through their social media accounts to receive not just a monthly newsletter, but live updates. Let stories of hope and transformation invigorate you. You can even share prayer requests, personal stories of refugees, and invite people to join you in prayer.
4. Volunteer at local refugee organizations.
Want to make it more personal than just clicking “share” or scribbling in your prayer journal? Maybe checking social media and reading email updates doesn’t feel like enough – you may want to bring justice and be involved in the lives of refugees on a weekly or even daily basis. The UN allows you to volunteer from your own home. While kicking back using your computer, you can help others through the internet. Take Heart House, for instance – they provide safety, education, and opportunity for refugee children through after-school programs, and they constantly welcome volunteers and donations. Also, the International Rescue Committee allows you to help set up an apartment, welcome a family, drive them around, teach them, and orient them to the new culture. And no matter where you live, you can hold a donations drive to collect dressers, tables, chairs, lamps, rice cookers, etc. Sometimes you need to collapse on the couch and fall asleep while your favorite season of Friends runs on Netflix. But sometimes, when the laziness and waves of tiredness roll in, you need a friend – someone who inspires you and someone you can impact for the better.
You can devote hours of your life to fight for the refugees like Carrie Davis in The Good Lie or you can give just a few minutes. Either way, every second counts. Sign up for email updates, pray, share something online, or volunteer. While you may have every intention of improving their lives, they might just end up transforming your own life for the better.