As war forces another generation to flee, we need to support them in creating their future.
There were two children who began their lives in refugee camps and experienced war along the Russian border. The sound of bombs and shooting was persistent. The story is not too different from what you’ve probably seen on Facebook recently—kids caught up in the chaos of war.
Those two kids were my parents.
Decades later, I work for an organization that supports refugees along the border with Russia amid another war. I think about how my mom can’t listen to fireworks because of the memories they evoke, and I now watch as a new generation of children learns that fear. I think about my grandfather who was taken from his home in Latvia to a labor camp deep inside Russia, and I worry about the families of captured Ukrainians who can relate.
So working to give people from difficult circumstances a better life is the most meaningful thing I can do. I help businesses direct their money and philanthropic energy to the local groups on the ground—from Eastern Europe to southern Africa—that can do the most good.
Speaking out on social issues is an important step for today’s companies. And so is offering direct support for the families fleeing war, disaster, and other challenges and arriving here. You need to let them know that this country, and your company, welcome them.
How can corporate leaders support new immigrants?
1. Share LinkedIn’s new resources for refugees.
Once refugees start working in the welcoming country, investments in them can yield significant dividends.
2. Join 200 other companies at Tent Partnership for Refugees to show that your company is committed to supporting refugees.
Consumers want to support businesses that align with their values.
3. Harness your corporate social responsibility resources to respond to the global refugee crisis.
Create a fundraiser, like Webflow did, and match employee or consumer donations.
GlobalGiving, where I have worked for the past dozen years, is at the intersection of digital technology, corporate strategy, and improving lives all over the world. We send donations—whether it’s $25 from an individual or $250,000 from a corporation—to local organizations around the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
Every day, I am inspired by stories about amazing social change happening despite social upheaval. Like the project run by our nonprofit partner Echo for Refugees that gives kids who fled Syria and Afghanistan the tools they need to keep learning and dreaming: Wi-Fi, books in nine languages, and resources to aid independent study. Or the project led by our partner China California Heart Watch that conducts heart disease screenings for Burmese children who are refugees and provides surgery for those who need it.
Sometimes, in putting together a presentation, I’ll be sorting through pictures and see a young child. They could be from anywhere—but, inevitably, I will see longing in their eyes. To stop being a refugee and start just being a kid.
And I think those children are no different from my parents, who were welcomed by a great nation, prospered, and gave back to their fellow citizens.
I know that’s why I’m able to write this. And to have a career that is not really about giving—but about paying back.
We all owe someone who helped us along the way. And we can all take action to support refugees who are on the way to creating their new lives and new stories.
Learn how your corporate social responsibility strategy can support refugees from around the world.
Featured Photo: Protect the Bravest: Help Ukrainian Children by Tabletochki Charity Foundation