Volunteer with Refugees
Would you like to play a role in helping refugees suffering due to war, conflict, political persecution and natural disasters like cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes? There are rewarding voluntary work placements available worldwide in places like the Africa, Calais, France, Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. Several international and local organisations offer volunteer programs with Syrian refugees which you can apply for through our website.
Volunteer Work with Refugees
Volunteering Organisations Recruiting Volunteers
Guide to Working with Refugees
With One World 365 you can search volunteering programs with refugees in destinations like Australia, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Myanmar, New Zealand, Thailand, Palestine, South Africa, UK, Greece and USA. Some of these countries are probably not the first place you think of when it comes to helping refugees but there are lots of worthwhile projects which you can get involved with including education, sports coaching, integration and also community development. There are lots of ways to make a difference, view more information on our guide.
Working at Refugee Camps
We get a lot of enquiries from people wanting to travel and work in refugee camps but we always tell participants you really need to consider if you are ready for this experience. The idea of travelling to a developing country to help people might sound appealing but in reality living conditions and seeing day to day struggles of disadvantaged people can be shocking. There are various opportunities to find work at a refugee camp and you will need to decide where you would like to go.
Some international organisations offer placements but most programs are run by local NGO's and charities. One project we highly recommend is the Kenya refugee camp provided by Inspire Volunteering. Here you will find some of the poorest people in Kenya, including Kenyans and also Somalis who fled the Somalia conflit in the 1990's. Housing settlements in refugee camps can be poor and most organisations try to bring basic nessecities like fresh water and safe housing. There are also other refugee camps whcih are in desperate need of international assistance located all around the globe.
Volunteer with Syrian Refugees
Syria in the midst of crisis and donations and also international volunteers are needed to help. If you would like to do more than just give a donation and if you are wondering how to volunteer with refugees our guide and programs will be able to help you. The Syrian refugee crisis is getting a lot of coverage at the moment especially after the death of 2 year old Aylan Kurdi which shocked the world. This country is unsafe to visit at the moment but there are lots of organisations helping fleeing Syrians in nearby Turkey, Hungary, Greece, Italy and other countries in Europe.
Places You Can Help
There are programs with refugees throughout the world you can choose to become a volunteer in your home country or actually travel overseas to make a direct influence. In Europe there is a huge refugee crisis, the largest since World War II and millions of Syrian citizens need assistance. But Syria is not the only country with a big exodus of refugees, thousands of people are also fleeing countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Greece, France, Kenya, Libya, Haiti, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
Volunteer with Refugees in Europe
A report from the United Nations refugee agency says that more than 2,500+ migrants and refugees have died or gone missing this year while crossing the Mediterranean Sea whilst over 4 million Syrians have fled their country since war began. Thousands of these people are now in Europe and need daily assistance in terms of clothing, food, housing and healthcare. International aid organisations and volunteers are playing a key role in helping in countries like Greece and Turkey.
Volunteer with Refugees in Calais/France
One of the most popular enquiries we get is from people asking ' how can I help or volunteer with Calais refugees?'. To just turn up independently isn't recommended, the notorius jungle camp in Calais has recently been demolished and whilst hundreds of refugees are based here it is best to leave the humanitarian work to recogised organisations. Some recommended organisations which have been set up to help refugees include Care4Calais offer volunteer work with refugees in Calais/Paris.
Volunteer with Refugees in the UK / USA
If the idea of going overseas to help isn't possible or doesn't appeal to you then in the UK and USA there are lots of organisations working to help refugees which accept help from volunteers. Some organisations help to resettle refugees and asylees, by providing them assistance with educational needs, family and social services, medical attention, employment, and cultural orientation.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Applying
- Will you be able to make a difference?
- What skills can you offer?
- Where would you like to go?
- What people would you like to help?
- Would it be more beneficial to help from home rather than at a refugee camp
Refugee Relief Organisations
There are local and large international organisations are working to help people in all corners of the globe, these include:
- Aylan Kurdi Fund
- British Red Cross
- International Rescue Committee
- Médecins Sans Frontières
- Migrant Offshore Aid Station
- Save the Children
- Red Cross Europe
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
- Refugee Action
How to Choose an Organisation/Project
There are so many different organisations each one is different and all aim to help and improve the lives for refugees. Some set up refugee camps and distribute essential items such as diapers, hygiene kits, food, water, mosquito nets, tents and basic healthcare. Some organisations are dedicated to preventing migrant deaths at sea whilst others offer practical help to people seeking asylum. Some organisations will pay for flights and pay you a salary, whilst a lot of non-skilled placements might require you to cover flights and accommodation yourself. Some international organisations might also require you to pay a fee or give a donation to participate, although with the majority of refugee projects this isn't the case.
Your role as a volunteer helping refugees will vary depending on the organisation. In Western coutnries you could volunteer helping to raise awareness, working on databases and website development or fundraising for aid missions. Whilst on the ground in refugee camps and at humanitarian centers skilled volunteers are in high demand including architects, teachers, builders, medics, doctors, dentists and people who can help improve peoples skills. Non skilled placements can include handing out food and water or helping with daily tasks. Out of conflict zones where you can help asylum seekers there are lots of roles available including teaching English, business and asylum/immigration assistance.
You will usually need to be aged 18+, in good health and also be passionate about helping people. An open mind and attitude will also help whilst it is important you research all projects before applying, the harsh emotional reality and living conditions might not be what you are used to. Most organisations will require you to have a certain skill to help whilst others projects are more open to non-skilled individuals.
If you get accepted onto a refugee volunteer program in a developing country you will be provided with information and training. All organisations will have staff on hand to answer any questions or concerns you have about safety, you will also usually have an in-country manager to give advice and help with any concerns. Depening on your destination you will usually form part of a larger humanitarian team and stay in special accommodation.
How Long to Participate for
How long you commit to a refuee mission is usually down to the organisation. Most want a long term commitment. Some volunteer roles can turn into a full time career if you make a good impression. We often tell potential humanitarian volunteers the longer you stay the better, this is the best way to learn, improve and also make a difference. Short term volunteer placements with refugees and people can have a negative effective due to the amount of training required.
What You Will Learn
There are so many incredible things you will learn about yourself and other people and cultures. You will learn compassion and also hear heartbreaking stories of the way people have lived their lives. You will also get to learn new practical skills, if you are young having this on your CV will look fantastic to future employers. There will also be experience staff who will be able to help you develop, these experiences are pricesless and are difficult to gain in any other areas of work. This will be the most rewarding challenge of your life.
What to Do Before Applying
- Research all opportunities to see if they are right for you
- Check past participant feedback before applying with a certain organisation
- Read latest safety information from the foreign office travel advice to see if your destination is safe or if there are any urgent warnings or things to be aware of
Alternative Ways to Help
- Make a financial donation to humanitarian organisations and NGO's which help refugees
- Use social media and get active in helping aid organisations generate funds
Reviews & Testimonials
If you have ever been to work with refugees and would be keen to share your experience please get in touch with us.
"I volunteered with Drapen Havet, a Norwegian Organisation who provide daily help to the mother and baby unit in Skaramangas refugee camp in Athens. It was our first time to volunteer abroad and a very worthwhile experience. I never cease to be amazed at the tremendous resilience of human beings in times of adversity. Despite the many losses and sadness people could still smile, laugh and responded so readily to love and care with tremendous spirit. It was sad to leave but we left with good memories and made many new friends in the volunteering world, knowing that we would return." - Aileen, Ireland