5 Ways You Can Help the People in the Migrant Caravan
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
People seem to be talking a ton about the “issue” of the migrant caravan headed to America. People are ranting from basically two positions: “Let them in so they can find better lives here” or “It’s not safe to let them in.”
Every time I read something from either of those positions, I get a knot in my stomach because I’ve spent years working with migrant workers, advocating for their rights, and supporting the fight against human trafficking. I know what they will face on either side of the U.S. border. The issue of whether to let them in or not is complex and needs to be discussed with a lot of wisdom and planning which I frankly don’t see any politician doing! It’s not an either or situation. It should be a question of “How can we as a nation best help this group of people and still look after our own interests?”
But we aren’t going to solve the collective ineptness of D.C. in the next few weeks, so what can we do to help the people in the caravan.
First, face the harsh reality of what life is like for migrants:
If you actually care about the people in the migrant caravan, you should be freaking out right now with the realization of how much help they need whether they are in our country or not. These people’s lives were so desperately hopeless that they are walking over a thousand miles in hopes that something will be better.
Wherever they end up, the majority of them are destined to be homeless, poor, vulnerable and desperate. They are definitely going to be preyed on by traffickers. Many of the girls and some of the boys will most likely be sold into sex trafficking. Any person in the group who is not an abuser will be abused.
We like to think that there will be more opportunities for them if they come to America, and that is partially true. They will get better healthcare, food, and other social service benefits. But in a few years, when the media attention has died down, it is very unlikely that many of them will be citizens. Their opportunities will be extremely limited and they will remain susceptible to abuse, exploitation, and other problems associated with poverty in America.
If these children do go to school as undocumented illegals, they will most likely drop out in their teens because education beyond that is unlikely to benefit them since it is virtually impossible for them to go to college.
And as sad as all of that is, I am barely scratching the surface of the abuse they will endure here in America. Though their lives may be some better than what they left behind, that should not relieve those of us sitting in middle class lives of comfort and ease from the responsibility we have as Christians to value them as human beings.
How Can We Best Help the PEOPLE in the Migrant Caravan?
There are tons of issues and no easy quick solutions. It’s great to give to organizations that are providing temporary care right now.* But please, also consider things that will help bring real solutions for them and the people like them.
When this is no longer a popular hashtag and meme topic, the real stories of the people in these caravans will continue and they will still need help.
Consider these action steps for more effective long term solutions:
1. Be a political advocate for them
Political involvement doesn’t have to just be defending the side you have chosen! You can call senators and representatives and encourage them to care about humanitarian issues no matter which political party you are affiliated with!
You can cross party lines and support all kinds of good programs no matter what party you support. You can also demand that our leaders actually change something rather than continuing to deflect our attention away from their complete and utter ineffectiveness by keeping us arguing.
For example, the Polaris Project is an organization that fights human trafficking. Check the link below to see how you can be more effectively involved in politics. (Not that the meme you posted wasn’t world changing…**)
2. Give Wisely to Humanitarian Organizations
Support organizations that are doing the most long-term good in developing countries. Americans are amazing at having empathy with people and throwing money at their problems. What we don’t like are long term solutions that don’t make us feel good. We tend to give most of our donations to organizations that give immediate relief while those working for lasting change are scrounging for funding.
Of course, give people food when they are starving, but we should focus our resources on helping them not end up in that situation again.
3. Get Involved in People’s Lives
Maybe the people in the migrant caravan won’t end up living in your town, they certainly might. If not them, then other’s like them surely will be living somewhere close. Will you venture into the poor neighborhoods and still care about their problems?
Consider just one issue that people in poverty in America face, sex trafficking.
One of the most haunting statistics that rings in my head is that as many as 3/4 of kids who run away from home are never reported missing. Let that sink in for a minute. Fully consider what happens to kids in America living in poverty and running from abuse.
Almost all of them are approached by a sex trafficker within 48 hours of being on the streets. How long does it take us to find them? Where are the Jesus followers? If a trafficker has no problem finding them, why do we?
Being Involved in Their Lives as Individuals is the Hope
Another statistic that you should know. The main common factor in people breaking free from sex trafficking is ONE yes 1, just one! One person who is an ongoing support for them and believes they can do something better.
And really, I think that’s the answer for most every problem. It’s why Jesus taught us to love our neighbors. We need community to believe in us and support us. Those of us who have benefited from that kind of support should freely offer it to others.
4. Support education and mentoring.
Donate and volunteer with groups that will educate the people in the caravan and the people in the countries they came from. When we educate people, we empower them to create their own solutions, we give them hopes for something better and purpose beyond what they know.
5. Educate Yourself About Their Issues
Every time I see a picture of the children in the migrant caravans, I’m filled with deep sorrow, rage, and despair. I wish I could just take twenty of them into my home. I vehemently hate hate hate hate that people are using them for political gain. As I wrestle with these deep emotions, I end up feeling overwhelmed, like nothing I do will matter, so I just want to find something to relieve my anxiety.
I often relieve my angst through writing, ranting, or trolling some jerk on the internet. Then I feel better. I feel like I did something to help but I didn’t. I only helped myself feel less bad about someone else’s misery.
Next time you see something about the migrant caravan which feels you with strong emotions; get off of social media; go do some research; and decide how you can actually do something to help them (and others like them). You can start with all the links in this article.
I’m a huge believer in and supporter of International Justice Mission. They rock at helping other countries set up long term programs to fight injustice. Even if you don’t give to them, they are a great resource for finding out what is going on in the world.
Thanks for reading!
Let me know what you are doing to make a difference!
Don’t send me your memes! Grrrr
Blessings to y’all guys!
**It WASN’T!!! That’s sarcasm you moron. All political memes do is give the people who agree with you a good laugh, give you an emotional outlet to feel like you did something all while alienating the people who disagree with you so that having a real discussion becomes a tiny bit harder.
Image from: https://media4.s-nbcnews.com/i/newscms/2018_44/2632151/181104-migrant-caravan-al-1145_62e0e26ccb412d515af9dc3942f9f0ab.jpg