3 tips for volunteering with refugees

On June 20, about one hundred countries take part in the so-called “World Refugee Day“, which has been held annually since 2001. Many events and projects are initiated with which the participants express their solidarity with refugees.

On this day, the UN Refugee Agency will also publish the global refugee numbers. In recent years they have reached sad records. Violence, persecution and human rights violations have forced and still force many people worldwide to leave their homes.

Already since the foundation of vostel.de, projects with and for refugees have been an integral part of our platform. Over the years we were able to gain a lot of experience about important aspects when volunteerig for/ with refugees. We would like to share these experiences with you, so that your commitment is as effective as possible.

Before we start with our 3 tips, it should be said that working with refugees – like any work with people – requires openness and commitment. Besides that, there are no additional formal requirements when working with and for refugees.

1. Create a basis of trust!

Especially some projects, like mentoring, require a particular level of trust between the volunteers and refugees. As this takes time to develop, you should be willing to take on long(er) term commitments.

For other projects and activities, such as a women’s café with refugee women, where a protected space is created in which women can develop themselves as freely as possible, you can also get involved for a short-term.

2. Meet them at eye level!

The IQ Netzwerk Baden-Württemberg has created a very helpful video describing the causes of disappointment and irritation when working with refugees. 

Their summary: An exchange at eye level between volunteers and refugees is hardly possible. But to create at least a “common ground”, volunteers must accept the individuality of refugees and their right to self-determination. They should also ask questions and wait for their answers instead of answering them in advance.

3. Be interculturally open!

Most of the time, the culture of refugees is very different from your own culture, so you should be open and without prejudice to new ways of behaving and interacting.

We advise you to inform yourself about the situation refugees are in and to reflect your own position as a volunteer. You should be open-minded for other cultures and perspectives. And finally you should be a good listener.

Source: SINGA-Language Cafe

You want to get involved with refugees?

Then have a look at vostel.de and discover numerous projects for and with refugees!

You will find more tips and information on volunteering in our volunteer guide or through our social media channels (FacebookInstagramTwitter). Here we will keep you up to date on everything important from the world of volunteering! So feel free to drop in there as well! 🙂

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