How Kitchener-Waterloo residents and students can help Syrian refugees

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The picture of little Alan Kurdi that washed up on the Turkish beach of Bodrum swept over social media and caused a well-deserved uproar regarding the Syrian refugee crisis. This shocking image galvanized thousands of emotional responses which have poured out across the world. Civilians have staged marches and protests to urge governments to increase the number of refugees allowed into countries by speeding up the screening process required for refugees to enter a country. In Canada, there have been protest rallies in downtown Toronto, Hamilton, and Vancouver, where demonstrators held &ldquo;Refugees Welcome Here&rdquo; banners and signs.</p>

The refugee crisis has also become a hot button election issue. In addition to making global headlines, Kurdi’s picture has suddenly shifted the focus of the federal election campaign. 

Here, in Kitchener-Waterloo, a number of people and organizations are anxious to play their part in ameliorating this large humanitarian crisis. One of the easiest and most effective ways to donate is to the YMCAs of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge. The YMCA accepts online donations and cheques. In addition to monetary contribution, the YMCA’s Immigrant Services is always looking for volunteers to be a part of their English language conversation groups, office staff, immigration and citizen support groups, and computer support.

In addition, Welcome Home is one of the most eminent refugee housing and rehabilitation centres in KW and provides temporary housing to new arrivals in the area regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliations. Monetary donations can be made on their website or via phone, bank drafts, or cheques. The Welcome Home charity also has several fundraising events such as ‘Ride a Bike,’ walks, and golf tournaments to raise money for refugee rehabilitation. Students can participate in these too and play their role to help the Syrian refugees.

The Reception House is another charitable organization that accepts donations. Here, one can find a charity or a cause of their choice and make donations on the Reception House’s website. Another great feature of this organization is that anyone can plan a fundraiser under the patronage of the Reception House for any cause. This is where students can go to plan their own fundraising events for the refugee crisis.

The Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support also accepts donations on their website as well as on their Canada Helps link. This is a local charity that helps provide assistance with the refugee claim process and encourages an impartial and just environment for refugees in Canada. Other organizations such as Oxfam, United Nations Refugee Agency, Doctors Beyond Borders, and the Canadian Red Cross are all doing commendable work and appreciate donations that help improve the services they offer and expand their amenities to a wider range of people. 

Donations can also be made to the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, an organization which helps people travelling in unsafe boats and vessels. A charitable donation to this organization would help to prevent refugees from crossing the Mediterranean Sea in perilous means of transportation, with the hopes of preventing any more boats capsizing due to overcrowding. 

All of these organizations are tirelessly working to uphold the fundamental human rights of refugees as well as to provide rehabilitation so that there will never again be another Alan Kurdi.