Most of the refugees who come to the U.S. speak little English and have nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Volunteers at charities like Exodus in Chicago help refugees by setting them up with housing in the U.S. The volunteers gather a one-month supply of household items, including kitchenware, toys and clothing, for each family's furnished apartment, which is subsidized by Exodus.
The volunteers meet the family when they arrive, introduce them to other refugee families in the building and assign a social worker to help them enroll in English classes and job training [source: Gilchrist].
Abroad, organizations like the American Refugee Committee (ARC) send volunteers and interns overseas for four to six months to help victims of war and civil conflict in seven countries. The Minneapolis-based group has programs in Africa and Asia that provide health care, clean water, housing, legal aid, trauma counseling and microloans to refugees [source: ARC].
Many organizations, like the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), were founded to address a particular problem, such as the influx of refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia that flooded into Portland, Ore., following the Vietnam War. As need grew and the world became a smaller place, the organizations typically branched out into helping refugees in other parts of the world.
IRCO, for example, which provides resources like refugee job training, student mentoring programs and senior centers, now also serves asylum seekers from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America [source: IRCO].
When it comes to wars and civil unrest, countless people suffer. However, they don't have to do so indefinitely thanks to the help of hundreds of organizations and even more individuals. And a little aid can go a long way.
With the help of the U.N., Frishta Mirbacha became one of the lucky ones in 2000, when its refugee agency relocated her family to Richmond, Va. Now married with an infant daughter and living in Washington D.C., Frishta is about to graduate with a degree in accounting -- a dream that was impossible in her native Afghanistan [source: U.S. Committee for Refugee and Immigrants].
For more information about refugee charity work, see the links on the following page.