Displaced But Determined: How Community-Led Nonprofits Are Creating An Equitable Future

A record 70.8 million people across the globe are forcibly displaced. We need new, community-led responses in the fight for a safe and equitable future for all. Learn how GlobalGiving partners are empowering refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons to build a better future together.


Imagine being forced to abandon your home, all of your possessions, and all that is familiar to flee a threat to your life or your family’s life. More people around the world than ever before are in this situation. Displaced persons are fleeing threats as far-ranging as political persecution to rising sea levels.

The challenges and uncertainties faced by displaced communities are now amplified by the dangerous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a world where the international aid community is redirecting resources to combat the disease in their own countries, how can we keep vulnerable populations like displaced people safe, far from home?

Thankfully, many nonprofits in the GlobalGiving community represent localized, bottom-up approaches to migration issues in regions across the globe, and these solutions draw back the curtain on how we can achieve an inclusive, flourishing social landscape once restrictions on movement are lifted.

The needs of these communities are as diverse as the factors that force them to seek a new life, and our local nonprofit partners are responding with just as many creative solutions. Take a look:

Starting Over: Urban Refugees

As defined by UNHCR, refugees are individuals who are fleeing from conflict, violence, or persecution and often arrive at their destination bringing nothing but the determination to survive. Unlike what we typically see in the news, most refugees don’t live in camp settings. In large cities, organizations like TUSA in Nairobi fill the gaps in traditional aid by providing urban refugees from Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda with the capital to start small businesses, integrating them into the formal economy with the help of a solid support network. Learn more.

Community-Led Relief: Refugee Camp Residents

Refugee camps are often overcrowded by the thousands. By harnessing the capacity that lies within the Rohingya community itself, the goal of OBAT Helpers Inc. is to tackle the obstacles in access to medical care and improve the health outcomes of Rohingya refugees. OBAT Helpers achieves this through its network of Community Health Workers that is comprised of Rohingya volunteers. These health workers are trusted by camp residents and make regular “home visits,” raising awareness of the health clinic’s available services like vaccinations, testing, and maternal healthcare. Learn more.

Adapting to Change: Climate Refugees

Our changing climate is linked to an increase in the intensity and frequency of natural disasters and contributes to rising sea levels. Communities who have lived in low-lying, coastal areas for centuries find their livelihoods threatened by greater numbers of devastating tropical storms, such as the recent Super Cyclone Amphan. Nonprofit leaders like BEDS Bangladesh are helping people driven from their homes by natural disasters to adapt and rebuild, while taking a nature-based approach to improving the resilience of the Sundarbans coastal region. Learn more.

Keeping Hope Alive: Asylum Seekers

The road to safety for asylum seekers is perilous and can last for years. Asylum seekers often pass through numerous legal obstacles to gain protection status after fleeing persecution. While they await the decision of their destination country, asylum seekers require support to keep them safe, provide for basic needs, and navigate complex asylum processes. Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer, A.C. is doing just that through its network of 13 local organizations in Mexico. This grassroots network is focused on protecting the safety and dignity of women and girls escaping gender-based violence in Central America. Learn more.

Tackling Trauma: Internally Displaced Persons

Natural disasters and war frequently displace people within the borders of their own country. Leaving the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, an estimated 1.5 million people, scarred by what they have witnessed and experienced, have packed their bags to build new lives in Kyiv. Women’s Federation for World Peace is tackling psychological trauma among women and children through art therapy and monthly cultural events in the capital city. In Myanmar, displaced ethnic minorities access healthcare through the support of Backpack Medics. Small and nimble humanitarian teams, Backpack Medics provide medical care and community health awareness training to people living in otherwise inaccessible camps. Learn more.

Regaining Lost Rights: Stateless People

UNHCR defines stateless populations as “individuals who are not considered citizens or nationals under the operation of the laws of any country.” These marginalized individuals are moms, dads, sisters, brothers—people just like you and me. They often lived their entire lives being shoved out of communities and discriminated against at every turn. Often, they’re born into nations that lack robust government infrastructure or the basic resources needed to build a healthy, functioning society. To fill this gap in opportunities, Imkaan Welfare Organisation provides youth from Mahar Colony, Pakistan experiencing generational statelessness with an innovative gymnastics program and the educational support they need to matriculate into public schools. Learn more.

Refugees are doctors, teachers, lawyers, and students, and, now more than ever, they are giving back to their adopted homes. When we open the door to displaced communities and work hand-in-hand to offer a new start, we are also welcoming new ideas, thoughtful innovation, and a kaleidoscope of cultural experiences that enrich all of our communities.

While global movement is currently restricted and refugee resettlement has stalled, you can still make a difference for families forced from home by giving to one of our vetted, high-impact projects.


This World Refugee week, GlobalGiving is matching the first $750 donated to every participating project supporting refugees across the globe.

Featured Photo: Syrian Refugee Crisis: CARE at the front lines by CARE

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