I am a student with both Syrian and British nationalities and I am currently doing a postgraduate degree in Marketing at Salford University. I am frequently asked about possible ways to help Syrian refugees and I have always wanted to do something about it. The two modules that I have so far studied have empowered me with a great understanding of the impact of cultural differences on communication, on one hand, and with key digital skills that I can use in order to demonstrate various possible ways to help Syrian refugees.
Help Syrian refugees: Share their stories
In order to help Syrian refugees, people need to understand and learn their stories. This will trigger emotions that will, in their turn, trigger calls for action. All refugees witnessed atrocities or lived in fear. Many had to escape quickly leaving everything they have ever worked for behind. Some even had to leave family members who were too weak to run. Others had to sell their family homes and possessions for very cheap in order to pay smugglers. There are so many different heartbreaking stories from refugees online. We can help them by using all types of marketing communications and social media services to shed a light on their stories. Whether by writing, sharing posts, photos and videos on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or any other platform to help spread awareness and trigger actions.
Help Syrian refugees: Show compassion
Compassion, respect and making vulnerable refugees feel welcome is the least us humans can do to help Syrian refugees. Communicating this message and spreading it via word of mouth, or any other marketing communication channel, is key in order to eliminate fear from refugees and to change the perception some people have about them being terrorists or losers who could not make it in their own country. The majority of refugees are actually running away from terrorism themselves. They are fleeing war and persecution and seeking a better future for their children. Even if their reasons vary, the one common factor among refugees is that they were all left with no other options. Their past life now only exists in their memory and there is no going back. It takes a lot of courage to do so or, also, a lot of despair. The journeys they are taking are dreadful and harsh. Although a lot of them die on the way, many say it is their only glimmer of hope.
Help Syrian refugees: Fundraising
Marketing communications methods and social media services are also great for fundraising online to help individuals or big organisations aiming to aid refugees. A small genuine post that stirs emotions might lead to a great call for action and a good fundraising idea. For example when Gissur Simonarson tweeted a heartbreaking picture of a desperate Syrian refugee in Lebanoōn selling pens in the street with his little daughter sleeping on his shoulder, he started the hashtag #BuyPens and a crowdfunding campaign was started with the help of Twitter users in Lebanon. So much money was raised that this refugee was able to open a bakery in Lebanon and hired 16 other Syrian refugees.
Help Syrian refugees: Mobile marketing
Furthermore, Mobile marketing is helping refugees to a high extent. Mobile phones are fundamental in the life of refugees as they are their only link with the rest of the world. A lot of times, mobiles are the only thing refugees take on their journeys. A Syrian refugee in Turkey has developed an app to help Syrian refugees adapt to life away from home. In fact, a collection of Android and Apple Apps have been developed to help refugees. The more apps created the better.
Help Syrian refugees: Make donations
Surely making donations is essential to make a real difference. Any little would help. Charities and international non-governmental organisations such as UNHRC , OXFAM and the British RedCross are making tremendous efforts to aid Syrian refugees. They all have online fundraising websites and campaigns where one can donate to help Syrian refugees.
Help Syrian refugees: Children of refugees
Children of refugees are so vulnerable and need our immediate attention. I have a 5 years work experience teaching Syrian children from various backgrounds and I have enjoyed every single minute and learnt a lot from working with them. Children around the world are all the same, they are all a source of joy and a great blessing to have but, also, a big responsibility. It is everybody’s responsibility to protect all children’s rights. The least a child needs is to be loved and to be safe. They all need good food, clean water, medical care and an access to education. The Syrian society is family oriented and extended family is almost as important as the nuclear one. Syrian children are usually surrounded by relatives, friends and neighbours that care for them and pamper them.
A harsh reality
Sadly, most of Syrian refugee children have seen family members being killed, raped or tortured. Some of them were tortured themselves. In areas under ISIS control, parents are forced to either run away or send their children to learn about becoming Jihadists. I cannot blame parents who risk everything, walk for thousands of miles and cross the sea on flimsy plastic boats in order to save their children from such a miserable destiny. Some parents who cannot afford to pay smugglers end up sending their beloved children alone on these journeys. It is hard to imagine how lonely, tired and traumatised these children are.
The tiniest action is better than the biggest good will:
Children deserve a future. We need to help Syrian refugees and the children around the world. Again, Social media campaigns can raise awareness, communicate messages of tolerance and provoke people to take actions themselves. Online petitions are also a good method. There is currently a running petition that can be signed to support bringing Europe’s unaccompanied refugee children to the UK. Donations to help Syrian refugees children can be made online at Save the Children UNICEF and others. Donations do not have to be money. Many organisations have charity shops, where one can donate clothes and toys for example, have launched campaigns to support refugees. Fostering a child is also available for those who have the desire and ability to provide new homes for children.
Help Syrian refugees to become part of the society
Refugees should be surrounded by our support and compassion. It is essential for them to feel part of the society and not to be alienated. Therefore, learning about the hosting country’s culture and norms and adapting to differences is essential. This is especially important for children so that they would grow up to be good citizens and contribute to society. Germany for example made an app to help refugees integrate better with the German culture.
Let’s stay positive and hope for a better future
I have faith in the goodness of humanity and I’d like to think things will get better. With good support, refugees and their children will grow up having the same feeling of gratitude to their new country, as I do, and they’ll contribute to building and protecting this great nation. I will continue my great learning experience at Salford and acquire new skills and a degree that will hopefully allow me to start a career in one of the NGOs and try to contribute to making the world a better place for our children.
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- Blog: Icon photo from http://peacechild.org/syrian-refugee-children/ (photographer unknown)
logo photo from www.huffingtonpost.com (photographer unknown)
Background photo is by Khalil Morcos.