As social workers, we are dedicated to helping those in need of becoming empowered to emancipate themselves from their situation, disposition, or oppression. There are as many forms of social justice callings as there are forms of clients, collectives, and societies. As a macro-based social worker, the calling to facilitate global change for refugees has a particularly strong gravitational pull. There are 45.2 million displaced individuals in the world, in dire need of the most basic human needs. The majority of these collectives receive no attention in our national media circuit and are often left desperate and without hope.
One of the few situations gaining media attention is in Uganda, where South Sudanese refugees are debating never going back to their homes because of how harsh the current living conditions are. Ethiopia is also getting many South Sudanese refugees (roughly 93,000) that are finding a small sense of peace in the Gambella Regional State. All of these refugees are in immediate need of help and support from the international agencies and governing bodies.
The most prominent refugee situation that has captured global attention has been the Central African Republic crisis. Masses of people are in need of basic resources to survive. Roughly 70,000 have been contained in airport grounds in substandard conditions. Disease and lack of food run rampant as these people struggle to escape the violence and oppression in their homeland. Despite UN efforts to deploy thousands of troops and police, the basic needs of these refugees still are not being met.
These individuals deserve to begin the healing process and gain a sense of security. When we hear about these events, we may cringe with a hopeless feeling of being unavailable to create tangible change for these people. Thankfully, there are ways to get meaningfully involved to help stabilize refugees’ situations and environments.
One can contribute to the Immigrant Solidarity Network, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHRC). One can also donate their time through volunteerism and activism through these organizations, as well as going onto the UN Volunteers website and seeing what agency can most utilize your skill sets. Societal change, especially for international situations, requires a global effort and social workers can be leaders in implementing that change.
Benjamin J Robb is a recent MSW graduate and resident in Denver, CO. He received his Master's of Social Work from the University of Southern California within the Community Organization & Planning Administration concentration. He has worked with nonprofit agencies, both at the clinical and administrative level, dedicated to serving and advocating those affected by addiction, mental illness, homelessness, and unemployment. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.