46 Refugee Volunteer Opportunities: Make An Impact if You’re in High School or Beyond

Ahmed Sami Raihane

Do you keep yourself updated on current events? Or maybe you prefer to catch up on the news with your daily cup of coffee? Regardless of how you stay informed, we're thrilled that you've taken the time to learn more about the refugee crisis and how you can make a difference. Whether you're a high school student or someone else, there's always a chance to support pressing issues, especially ones that affect the entire world.

Photo Credit: Middle East Institute

Educating yourself on the refugee crisis is a crucial step in determining how you can make a positive impact. There are many ways to become informed on the situation, including reading articles or conducting a quick online search. As an overview, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, a staggering number of over 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes globally. The causes of displacement, while complex, tend to stem from conflict, human rights abuse, and persecution:

Photo Credit: USA for UNHCR

How Can I Help?

Want to make a positive impact on the refugee crisis? You're not alone! High schoolers, teens, young adults and beyond have the potential to make a real difference through volunteering. Ask yourself what motivates you - is it a desire to help others, a passion for global relief causes, a calling in the humanities or healthcare? Maybe you even know someone personally impacted by the situation. The world needs individuals like you to bring your unique skills, empathy, and drive to the table and make a difference. Your contributions can make a lasting impact, not only on your community but on the world!

When Do You Start?

By the time you're done reading this article, you'll have ample amount of insight into learning how to help with the refugee crisis. Lucky for you, you can do everything remotely and with the click of a mouse. There are, of course, other in-person options, and those will be discussed as well. Given that the refugee crisis is an ongoing issue, volunteering will be vital year-round. So, to answer the question posed, you're starting RIGHT now! Given that your life is probably quite busy with school or work and time is sparse, planning your volunteering time is essential for not only you but the cause you wind up supporting! The big question you must ask yourself is how much time and resources you can dedicate to these causes -- Luckily, most of these opportunities give you full flexibility to decide on how you can contribute!

How Do You Choose Where To Volunteer?

When it comes to supporting a cause, there are a multitude of options available for you to choose from. To ensure that your time, effort, and funds are directed towards a trustworthy organization, consider using Charity Navigator. This website evaluates volunteer organizations and charities, working in collaboration with the IRS and its partners to offer "unbiased ratings." This gives you peace of mind in knowing that the program you decide to support is reputable and reliable. Here are some tips to consider when choosing a cause to support:

  • Find out if the organization's mission aligns with your values.
  • Research the charity's documented impact.
  • Examine reviews and social media presence of the organization.
  • Don't hesitate to reach out for guidance and support from members of charities and non-governmental organizations. They are always grateful for individuals who are willing to help make a difference with important causes.

  1. Molhamteam: Inspire Your Humanity

  2. The devastating effects of the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in early February 2023 has shaken the world to its core. With over 20,000 confirmed deaths and countless others injured and trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, the situation is dire. The freezing temperatures and already existing poverty in these countries make the need for aid and rescue efforts even more pressing.

    In response to this crisis, Molhamteam, a global charity, has launched an "Earthquake Response Campaign" to provide direct aid and resources to those affected by the disaster. Founded by a group of Syrian university students, this organization was established with the goal of aiding refugees fleeing to neighboring countries. Over time, the organization has grown to supply food, shelter, and medication to those in need and has expanded to include legal offices in several countries including Germany, Sweden, Canada, and Turkey. The goal of Molhamteam remains unchanged: to put an end to world suffering.

    Photo Credit: Damon Winter/New York Times

    Ways To Help:

    • To make a difference in the lives of those affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, consider advocating for others to donate to organizations such as Molhamteam. Utilize your social media platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and your school's website to spread awareness about the urgency of the situation and encourage others to help.
    • You can also start your own fundraiser through Molhamteam's social media pages to raise funds and educate others about the disaster. Options include the Earthquake Response Campaign, Snowstorm Response Campaign, and the Displaced People in Arsal Camps campaign.
    • If you have the means, consider sponsoring a child in need.
    • If you are interested in volunteering, you can reach out to Molhamteam at info@molhamteam.com and they will assist you in finding remote opportunities to help families in need.
    • Other trusted organizations that could use your support and donations include AFAD, AKUT, Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, AHBAP, and OXFAM.
    • Also, consider signing the "Progressive International" petition which is aimed at lifting US-EU sanctions to provide direct aid to Syria. Write to the White House, your local governor offices, and other political bodies to advocate for refugees and the need for fiscal government support.

  3. The International Rescue Committee: Humanitarian aid organization

  4. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) was established to provide support to refugees fleeing conflict in Europe. Today, the organization operates in over 40 countries and 28 cities in the United States to assist individuals and communities affected by humanitarian crises to rebuild their lives.

    Ways To Help:

    • While donating to the IRC is extremely helpful, there is much more you can do as a volunteer!
    • You can start a fundraising campaign in your community, school, or on social media platforms using a partner website called "Tiltify." By clicking the link, you can access a toolkit provided by the IRC to learn how you can raise money for a cause you're passionate about, including increasing access to clean water, creating cash vouchers for necessities, or expanding access to educational programs.
    • The IRC also provides the opportunity to host a live stream fundraiser for a cause of your choice on platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Instagram, and more. You can find a step-by-step guide on setting up a charity live stream in this 5-minute YouTube video.
    • Finally, the IRC has created over 141 different volunteering opportunities across the United States. After you search for a volunteer opportunity that matches your goals, you get interviewed by an IRC staff member, attend a remote IRC orientation, complete a background check, and go from there.

    Photo Credit: Content Rescue
  5. ámaxa: Deploy an offline digital library in a refugee camp around the world

  6. Ámaxa has partnered with Teach by Tech to deploy a digital library to refugees in need at another refugee camp around the world. Using a Raspberry Pi computer, an offline digital library provides educational content to a large population of refugees who do not have access to traditional education or Wi-Fi to access educational material online. The offline library actually creates its own Wi-Fi, allowing anyone who wants to access content to download it onto their own phones. By joining the ámaxa program to accomplish this project, we will match you with a team and a mentor who will help you deploy a library to a new refugee camp and make a real impact on the refugees living there!

    Ways To Help:

    • If you’re in high school: apply now! We will match you with a remote team and a mentor that will guide you in solving your problem in 4-6 months.
    • If you’re not in high school: join our waitlist by emailing lauren@amaxaimpact.org

    Photo Credit: A Raspberry Pi computer
  7. Alight: Transformation Starts With Your Own People

  8. Alight was created to assist refugees with resettlement and first began as a response to the Thai-Cambodian border crisis. Originally known as the American Refugee Committee, Alight is currently creating hundreds of health, sanitation, and educational services worldwide, serving over 3,000,000 people worldwide.

    Photo Credit: WeAreAlight

    Ways To Help:

    • Alight is always looking for volunteers and further has a multitude of internships that are remote to help you directly assist those in need of resettlement and resources. You can further create skill-based projects, attend events, and much more. They also encourage directly reaching out to volunteer@wearealight.org. For instance, if you're interested in photography, writing, or have other skills, they may be able to create a volunteer opportunity tailored to you!

  9. Save the Children: Humanitarian Aid Organization for Children

  10. "Save the Children" has a mission to ensure that every child has the chance to thrive. Established in 1919 after the conclusion of World War I, the organization has worked tirelessly to bring an end to the hardships faced by children throughout Europe. Today, more than 100 years later, "Save the Children" continues to make a difference, operating globally, including in the United States, to provide support to children during times of crisis.

    Ways To Help:

    • Get involved and make a difference with Save the Children! You can start your own fundraiser with the help of the organization. Simply reach out to getinvolved@savethechildren.org to learn how you can make a lifelong impact, whether it's supporting the U.S. Border Crisis, the recent earthquake crisis in Turkey/Syria, or something else.
    • You can also support the Children's Emergency Fund for the earthquake that hit the Syria and Turkey border by clicking here for more information. Currently, Save the Children has created a "Children's Emergency Fund" for the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Syria and Turkey border. Click here to find out more information on how you can help.
    • Join one of the "Races 2023" events to raise funds for children around the world. Click here to see the list of races and choose one that interests you.
    • There are also numerous volunteer opportunities available, such as advocating for children, starting fundraisers, volunteering through your school or workplace, and even starting a Save the Children school club. If you're outside of the United States, check out this special page just for you to learn about the options to support global causes remotely!
    • Additionally, you can take part in various campaigns! By joining the #STOPTHEWARONCHILDREN movement, you can contribute to ending the conflicts affecting children in countries such as Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. Click the link to show your support! There are also other ways to help children worldwide, including checking out the Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) and exploring the opportunities it offers.

  11. Jesuit Refugee Service: Accompany, Serve, Advocate

  12. Originally founded by Father Pedro Arrupe, over 25,000 Jesuit leaders in the past worked to aid the Vietnam crisis. Now, Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) can be found around the world with a mission to serve and advocate for refugees as well as those forcibly displaced by conflict. The goal of this organization is to help people heal and come up with strategies to rebuild their lives and determine a fruitful future.

    Ways To Help:

    • Good news! You can still make a difference for JRS even from the comfort of your home. One way to support is by contacting your local policymakers and advocating for refugees’ rights and services. Sign up for JRS Action Alerts to stay informed about petitions and pledges that you can support, such as investing in refugee humanitarian education, psychological protection, and asylum safeguards. Your voice truly matters in making a change! For instance, the JRS currently has opportunities such as signing petitions for the 118th Congress committee to invest resources in refugee humanitarian education, psychological protection, and the creation of safeguards for those seeking asylum. They just reached that goal of 500 signatures! Keep up the alerts so you can continue mobilizing these needs.
    • Further, the JRS has events you can attend via zoom and in person. Every year the JRS also has a national advocacy day in which you, yourself, can bring your voice to the table. You can even view past events on the JRS website to inspire your future volunteer work.
    • Lastly, if you are religious, JRS has prayer resources available with over 20 prayers and reflections to provide comfort and hope for those affected by the crisis. It's important to find what works best for you so that you can make the biggest impact possible.

  13. British Red Cross: Worldwide Humanitarian Charity

  14. The British Red Cross is one of the largest organizations in the world aiding refugees. Aid comes in the form of providing health and education services for refugees and asylum seekers. Further, this organization goes a step above and beyond to help vulnerable migrants and survivors of trafficking.

    Ways To Help:

    • As a high school student (or any other individual), you can support this organization by becoming a member of the Every Refugee Matters community. The more individuals who take this pledge, the more visibility these critical issues receive. The pledge is also being used to oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill, which prioritizes the method of a refugee's arrival in a country over the reasons and dangers that prompted their escape. The passage of this bill would result in millions being stripped of their rights, criminalized, and even incarcerated. It is crucial to emphasize that every signature counts.

    The pledge is as follows:
    • I believe every refugee matters.
    • I believe every refugee should be able to find safety.
    • I believe every refugee should have a home.
    • I believe every refugee should have the support they need.
    • I believe every refugee should be able to rebuild their life and contribute to society.

    If you would like to help contribute to the British Red Cross, please sign here, and share the pledge on your social media and in your community.

    Photo Credit: Red Cross UK
    • Participating in Miles for Refugees in June is another way you can support the British Red Cross. This event offers six different distance options that symbolize the journeys refugees have taken to find safety. Your aim is to raise £150 through your social media profiles, which will be donated to the cause. Keep checking the website for updates on 2023 and future opportunities.
    • Directly assisting the British Red Cross by volunteering to help refugees with their casework, administration, and interpretation needs is also a great way to help. The British Red Cross has a database to help you find volunteer opportunities in your area, along with information on how to apply. Additionally, they have resources available for teaching others in your community about the refugee crisis and how they can help. It's never too early or late to become an educator in your community.
    • Another way to support refugees is by purchasing products made by refugees. From specialty coffee to recycled cards, mugs, and more, these unique items not only make great conversation pieces, but also have a significant impact on the lives of those you're supporting.

  15. RefugePoint: Non-profit organization

  16. RefugePoint was established with private funding to reach out to refugees who have been overlooked by traditional humanitarian aid. Initially established to provide HIV care for refugees in Africa, the organization now operates in over 30 countries to offer medical assistance and resettlement support for the most vulnerable individuals.

    Ways To Help:

    • A meaningful way to support RefugePoint is by leaving a lasting impact. This organization provides you with the chance to directly contact their Chief Development Officer, hidey@refugepoint.org, to learn about remote options and pledges that can advance their mission. Get in touch with them for more information on how you can make a difference!

  17. ORAM - Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration

  18. ORAM is a pioneering internationally recognized non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to helping individuals who are fleeing persecution based on gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation. This organization may be a great cause for you to support if you're an ally of, or a member of, the LGBTQIA+ community. Some of the initiatives that ORAM directly supports include providing HIV treatment, enhancing access to sanitary facilities, and offering legal support for those affected.

    Photo Credit: Help Empower LGBTIQ Refugees

    Ways To Help:

    • Direct donations are extremely valuable to this organization. Another way you can get involved is by participating in their live seminars and pride receptions. Signing up for ORAM's newsletter is a great way to stay updated on event dates.
    • Although this form of giving back may seem like a big commitment for a high school student (or anyone in general), there is the option of sponsoring an LGBTQIA+ asylum seeker. If you or your family have the resources to provide a warm and safe environment for someone in need, ORAM will work directly with you to make that happen. Not only will you form a new bond with someone from across the world, but you will also help promote conversation about discrimination, prejudice, and acceptance. You can find more information by contacting info@oramrefugee.org or visiting their website. Don't hesitate to reach out to ORAM for other opportunities, as they welcome all forms of support.

  19. RCUSA - Refugee Council USA

  20. RCUSA, established in 2000, aims to provide protection and support for asylum seekers, refugees, and those who have been displaced. A significant portion of RCUSA's efforts is focused on promoting policies and laws that encourage collaboration between the government and civil society. With a network of more than 33 non-government organizations across the United States, RCUSA is dedicated to making America a more welcoming place for those seeking refuge.

    Ways To Help:

    Looking to support RCUSA and make a difference in the lives of refugees? Here are a few ways to get started:

    • Community Sponsorship Partner with a local community sponsor and welcome a refugee family with open arms! This is your chance to show empathy, love, and humanity to those in need. Check out this interactive map to find opportunities near you.
    • Advocacy: Make your voice heard! Whether in person or online, advocate for policies that support refugees and push back against anti-refugee initiatives. Sign pledges, engage with local policymakers, and connect with national and state elected leaders. RCUSA has resources to help you find individuals to contact at the city, municipal, and commissioner level.
    • Volunteering: Lend a helping hand at your local resettlement agency. Whether you're working at the front desk or teaching English, you can make a positive impact in the lives of refugees. Reach out to info@rcusa.org for more information on how you can get involved.
    • Share Your Story: Your story has power! Whether you're a staff member, refugee, supporter of refugee rights, or an advocate, share your story and raise awareness about the importance of supporting refugees.

  21. IOM - International Organization for Migration

  22. IOM is one of the top leading intergovernmental organizations that specialize in the field of migration. With over 175 member states and offices in 100+ countries, IOM is on a mission to promote humane conditions for all and has aided over 1.7M+ migrants. Their water program has helped over 13.3 million individuals, cash-based assistance has reached 1.9M+ individuals, and over 4.8 million people benefitted from their shelter and non-food item assistance.

    Ways To Help:

    • IOM has ample volunteering opportunities and internships to help assist migrants around the world. They do have a minimum threshold of being 19 years old to apply, so this may be a perfect opportunity for you to keep in the back of your mind if you're pursuing higher education or would like a career in assisting refugees in crisis.
    • On the other hand, volunteering opportunities are not limited by age! The IOM works directly with a program known as the United Nations Volunteers. Email hq@unvolunteers.org and the organization will work to find you volunteering opportunities either remotely or in your community!

  23. WFP -World Food Programme: Relief International

  24. The World Food Programme is one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations that work to help individuals recover from disaster, conflict, and more. Typically, this organization focuses on utilizing funds for food assistance and disaster relief. Working in over 120 countries, this relief organization does more than short-term resolutions, they give the tools to women, children, farmers, and more to improve productivity and create pathways to stability.

    Photo Credit: World Food Program

    Ways To Help:

    • To support the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), there are various ways to get involved and make a difference in the fight against hunger. One of the simplest and most fun ways is to play the game "Free Rice." With every correct answer, 10 grains of rice will be donated to WFP. This game not only provides a fun way to volunteer, but also helps raise awareness and support for various issues faced by refugees, such as health and nutrition, climate action, and gender equality.
    • Another way to support WFP is by pledging your commitment to fighting hunger through their organization. You can sign appeals such as the Madagascar Emergency Appeal and the Urgent Yemen Appeal, and make your voice heard.
    • Lastly, if you have innovative ideas for food relief programs, WFP encourages you to share them. Regardless of your age, you have the potential to come up with solutions to real-world problems. If your idea is feasible, you could receive up to $100,000 in equity-free funding, mentorship, and access to WFP's network. Submit an application to WFP today if you have a call to action and want your idea to be seen and heard!

  25. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: Safeguarding Immigrant and Refugee Children

  26. The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has a rich history of aiding refugees, beginning with its establishment to help those displaced by war in Europe. Over time, the organization evolved and broadened its scope to support refugees beyond the Lutheran community. Currently, LIRS is recognized for providing critical legal services to refugees, assisting them with navigating the complex immigration and visa processes.

    Ways To Help:

    • LIRS offers a variety of volunteering opportunities for individuals to make a difference in the lives of refugees. From advocacy and national programs to resettlement, detention visits, foster care, and pen pal ministry, there is a cause for everyone to support. You can sign up for a volunteer contract form and let LIRS help you find the right opportunity to fit your interests.
    • Through the "ACT" database, you can have a direct impact on the lives of refugees. For example, the "Fresh Change" program enables you to welcome new immigrants by providing them with a bag of clothing. You can also organize a Fresh Change clothing drive in your community or school!
    • If you have language skills, you can sign up to be an interpreter via phone or Zoom with the Border Servant Corps and assist refugees around the world. Other options include joining or starting a pen pal program to keep refugees connected with their loved ones. With so many fun and meaningful ways to get involved, I encourage you to click here and discover the other programs available to make an impact.

  27. IRAP - International Refugee Assistance Project

  28. The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is dedicated to supporting refugees in their pursuit of safety. They do so through offering legal aid, engaging in litigation, advocating for better policies, and more. IRAP recognizes that refugees often face political and economic marginalization, so they work tirelessly to level the playing field and protect the rights of those seeking refuge. IRAP has made such a significant impact that it is now supported by several law schools in the United States, where students volunteer their time and skills to assist those in need.

    The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) focuses on supporting refugees by providing legal aid, undertaking litigation, advocating for policy change, and more to defend the rights of individuals seeking refuge. As refugees often face marginalization on both political and economic fronts, IRAP works tirelessly to address imbalances in public policy and protect the rights of those in need. IRAP has received widespread support and recognition, with multiple law schools in the United States sponsoring the organization and providing volunteer opportunities for their students to support those in need.

    For more information on the types of litigation IRAP engages in, including their efforts to combat discriminatory policies and bills, as well as access to legal resources, click here!

    Photo Credit: IRAP

    Ways To Help:

    • Awareness is key - stay informed about the challenges faced by refugees by subscribing to IRAP's newsletter.
    • IRAP has a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising program that lets you create your own fundraiser for the organization. Get creative - plan a party, BBQ, or food drive. If you need help, just email development@refugeerights.org and they'll be happy to guide you.
    • Keep an eye out for IRAP's remote Zoom events, where you can learn about direct ways to help those in need. They welcome new participants and are eager to educate people about their cause.

  29. Refugees International: Voice for Powerful Action

  30. Refugees International was established with the aim of advocating for the provision of critical aid, safeguarding the rights of displaced individuals globally, developing solutions for displacement-related issues, and advancing human rights in developing countries. It's worth mentioning that the organization operates independently, as they do not receive funding from the government or the United Nations. This impartiality strengthens their credibility when working with the US administration, the US Congress, the UN, and other governments worldwide. Originally founded in 1979 to support refugees in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, Refugees International has been tirelessly working towards its ultimate goal of improving the lives of those most in need.

    Ways To Help:

    • There are several ways to support Refugees International, including attending events hosted by the organization in New York City and Washington, DC. Although in-person attendance may be challenging, events are usually live-streamed and can be viewed on the organization's blog. Stay informed and updated about the plight of refugees worldwide by subscribing to their newsletter and be alerted of any volunteer opportunities that arise.
    • Refugees International is committed to advocating for policies that help persecuted and oppressed communities. Right now, they need your support to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act. You can make a difference by volunteering your time to sign the pledge and sharing it on social media. This will not only bring attention to the cause but also notify your local representatives of your support. By using the hashtag #ThisIsHome, you can also join the effort to urge Congress to act on this bill and help over 70,000 Afghans restart their lives in the United States after the Taliban took control of their country.
    • Click here to find ways to share this pledge on social media and help refugees find a home.


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