Concerning Afghanistan: Or how you can help when the world falls apart

Images of Afghanistan leave many of us in despair over what we can do to help as individuals. Firstly: don‘t look away. Here are some ideas on how you can take action.

1. Educate yourself

Read up on what is happening. The Atlantic has a series of great essays and commentary on what has happened and is happening. „The Afghanistan Papers“ an investigation by the Washington Post sheds important light on what went wrong with US engagement in Afghanistan.

Social Media can be a great place to get some first info on a subject but be wary of the source. Find out who is writing what and what their motive might be. Similarly if reading from major news outlets on current affairs keep in mind that they too have a certain perspective on things that might influence their reporting.

2. Keep up the public conversation

Let our politicians know that you care! Post on your social media, write letters to the editor of your local and national newspaper, contact your representatives if that is common in your country, and sign calls to action.

March, if you feel comfortable doing so, because images of thousands of people standing up for peace and justice send a strong signal of solidarity to the world.

3. Donate if you can

Aid organizations are still doing important work in Afghanistan: consider donating to major NGOs like Unicef or the Red Cross and smaller grassroot ones.

Don‘t forget to include organisations that support refugees along their journey to safety and organisations that help refugees get settled in your country too!

I personally like to give to large NGOs with established structures in many countries that need aid.

Some of the NGOs I support:

Schweizerische Flüchtlingshilfe

Schweizerisches Rotes Kreuz

Helvetas

Ärzte ohne Grenzen

Caritas

Solinetz (they have organisations in many Swiss cantons. The link leads to the one of Zurich, but google for different locations!)

If you feel more comfortable donating to smaller NGOs that you know will use the money well and effectively, that can be just as effective. I would advise to make sure the NGO appears trustworthy though.

Also remember: just because the news stop talking about a crisis, that doesn’t mean the issue is necessarily resolved and people are not in need of aid anymore. Consider donating regularly and to organisations that help in countries that don’t make the headlines anymore too!

4. Volunteer

To resettle in a foreign country is hard: consider giving your time to help refugees feel more at home in your country. Lead a free lanuage course or conversation group. Assist in getting the hang of your country’s bureaucracy. Support someone in getting a job or an appartment.

In Switzerland „solinetz“ always looks for volunteers for many different tasks such as teaching german or helping with administrative matters. Similarly the Red Cross has various programs where you can support for example young refugees or families.

Also consider opening your house to refugees: maybe you have a extra room in a (shared)apartment or you are a house/apartment owner that has empty rooms or even whole apartments? Your local red cross or social services department can help you with necessary administrative tasks, and sometimes platforms such as ronorp.ch help with unbureaucratic distribution of places to stay.

Don’t let world events discourage you from taking action!

Theses are just some suggestions of what you can do, if the world feels overwhelming and individual action powerless. It never is!

Please comment with any further ideas or suggestions in how we can help in the face of crisis!

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