By: Negin Amini, Editor at World Vision Canada National Youth Council
With recent events across the globe, not a day goes by that we don’t hear how wars detrimentally affect children: from girls demanding their right to education, to children who’ve lost their childhood and happiness in Syria, to children displaced by the conflict in Ukraine. These are just a few examples. In Ukraine, there are over 4.3 million displaced children—more than half of the country’s estimated 7.5 million child population. Since 2011, nearly 5 million children have been affected by the civil war in Syria. About 12.3 million children are in need of assistance in Yemen.
Oftentimes, we would like to help, but we are lost. We listen to the news, read newspapers and hope that the problems get solved soon. Sympathizing is nice, but what’s even better is stepping forward to educate a friend, sharing reliable news and learning how to take action to help these children save their childhood.
Who are the most vulnerable?
Women, children, the elderly and disabled individuals are amongst the most vulnerable populations in countries that are facing a crisis. By mid 2021, 84 million people worldwide had fled from their homes. Among them, 35 million are children and 1 million of whom were born as refugees. There are a variety of reasons for children to lose their smiles, confidence and forget how to enjoy the world before stepping into adulthood. Their dreams vanish because of armed conflict, which will often be followed by separation from their families. They might get involved in dangerous and degrading working conditions, which could lead to them being exploited or forced to work.
How to take action?
Sometimes you cannot help others directly. However, you can help them indirectly by donating to charity or volunteering for certain organizations. Remember that small steps make a huge impact in a community. For instance, you can volunteer for local organizations helping to receive refugees, organize fundraisers, assist in translation, or sponsor refugees to come to Canada. With that, it is important to familiarize yourself with reliable organizations and resources to help you help others when their country is facing a crisis:
a. Volunteer for a local organization assisting arriving refugees from countries of crisis
While volunteering in a war and conflict zone is often not feasible and recommended due to involved risks and ineffectiveness, there are still ways to help in situations of crisis with your time and talents.
If it is your first-time volunteering, it is essential to find a cause that matters the most because in that way you can help the ones in need more compassionately while fulfilling your spirit with all the good steps, no matter how little they may seem to you, you took for someone who truly is in need. You can search for volunteer centers in known and accredited institutions as they will facilitate the process for you and match you and your goals to the program that benefits those who are in need. Your contribution will also depend on what expertise or experiences you can provide the volunteering organization.
Here are some organizations and opportunities to start: Canadian Council for Refugees, Together Project, Refugee 613 (Ottawa), Volunteer Toronto,
If you are a linguist or are familiar with the language of a country in conflict, one of the ways to help them remotely or in-person is to provide voluntary translation services. You can translate documents for charities that help to sponsor children. For instance, the information of an individual will be sent to you, and you can translate the information and send it to the organization. The organization will then use your translated work to publish information about children on their website, and sponsors can have an understanding about the capabilities and barriers children are facing in conflict zones. Here are some opportunities to start: Translators Without Borders, Respond Crisis Translation
As advised by the Government of Canada, the best way for Canadians to help during an emergency situation is to donate money to experienced humanitarian organizations.
The first word that comes to mind when we hear the word “donation” is donating money. However, if you are currently not able to donate money, you can still raise funds by selling goods such as food or clothes. For instance, you can organize a bake sale, charity event, auction, or raffle. The money you raise can be donated to the organizations whose mission interests you the most.
There might be barriers to directly donating food or clothing, as people in conflict zones can lose valuable able time finding their boxes with donated goods when they need to quickly leave the situation. Sometimes the donated clothes might not suit the climate or culture of the receiving country. If the donated goods are not appropriate, they might be discarded. If you are interested in donating food or medical supplies, make sure to check the expiration date since the expired medicines and foods can do more harm than good.
On the other hand, cash donations will help both local and international organizations to buy supplies according to the specific needs of people. In addition, it will provide a basis for them to immediately deliver care and support to the local economy, which has been affected by conflict or a natural disaster. You can donate to local or international trusted institutions. The Canada Revenue Agency has a complete list of frequently updated registered charities that you can consult, or you can see the compiled list below.
We all know the power of social media. However, before using its power to educate your peers, ignite a conversation in your community and share posts on your Instagram feed, take these crucial steps first:
a. Research: Before raising awareness about an issue, check the credibility of the information:
On a daily basis, we are exposed to different pieces of information whether from our friends or random people. Before spreading those posts, do a fact-check. One of the easiest ways to evaluate the credibility of the information is to search for credible news/media outlets. Sometimes, online information can be either overestimated or underestimated. In other situations, due to the complex nature of crises like pandemics or epidemics, it is important to collect important information since every piece of the information is crucial for the health of a certain population. In other circumstances such as war, it is important to understand the nature of the issue and what challenges the citizens of a certain country are facing. These steps will help you to outline how you can help people in other countries through advocacy.
b. Educate: After gathering all the information, you can start sharing information with your family and friends:
After you gather all the reliable information from credible resources, you can share it on social media, talk to your family and friends or even host an online event and ask experts on the topic to address the problem and propose solutions. This is the most important part of the process, since your information will eventually reach others who may rely on what you share
There are many ways to help countries in crisis, and you can play a role. Your actions can help restore a child’s dream and support mothers desperate to change the lives of their children. Your decisions and actions matter. Never underestimate the power your small actions might provide to a certain family or community. It can be life changing.
Additional resources: Organizations that help countries in crisis
1. World Vision International:
Since the 1950’s, World Vision has placed children and vulnerable communities at the center of attention through helping them to access clean water, food, healthcare and education. The organization offers child sponsorship, the Raw Hope pledge to support children in the world’s most dangerous places and the gift catalog where you can choose a meaningful gift for children in vulnerable communities.
2. International Rescue Committee:
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, which are the crisis in Afghanistan and Conflicts in Ukraine. They provide help to these countries through helping restore health, safety, education and economic wellbeing.
3. The International Red Cross:
The work of the International Red Cross (ICRC) is based on the Geneva conventions of 1949, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and the resolution of the international conferences of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. They ensure humanitarian protection and assist the most vulnerable communities that have been mentally and physically been affected by the detrimental effects of war.
4. Doctors Without Borders:
They provide free medical aid to those who need it in a humanitarian crisis or the ones whose country is affected by war. They rely on private donations, and they seek to provide the best quality of care to their patients through understanding their needs.
5. World Food Program:
The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization that seeks to assist countries in conflict zones through providing sufficient food to the individuals of a community. They believe that “food will build a pathway to peace, stability, and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change”.
6. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
As the name suggests, United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a global organization that is dedicated to saving lives and protecting the lives of the most vulnerable, particularly the refugees and forced displaced communities to reach their full potential and providing them assistance and care.
7. International Medical Corps:
The International Medical Corps provides healthcare assistance to countries that are facing a humanitarian crisis, are struggling in a conflict zone, or are affected by natural disasters through providing health care for free to affected individuals regardless of their gender, age, religion or race.
8. Refugees International:
Refugees International advocates for lifesaving assistance and human rights through protection of displaced individuals and providing solutions to the displacement crisis in the world without accepting funding from United Nations or Governments. Their most recent crisis management includes people who were displaced due to COVID-19 conditions, climate change, labor markets and women.
9. War Child:
War Child was founded to help impoverished and people in conflict zones find a long-term sustainable approach to identify the root of poverty and help children.