1. Offer your home
A woman in Iceland made international news after starting a Facebook group offering her home to Syrian refugees. In response, ordinary citizens from around the world have started home-sharing initiatives similar to Iceland’s to ensure that refugees have places to stay. Here’s a few:
- A German couple started a service called Refugees Welcome that matches asylum-seekers with potential German housemates.
- In Canada, citizens have led an organization called Lifeline Syria which aims to help resettle at least 1,000 Syrian refugees in Toronto in the next couple of years.
- Hungarians started the Migszol Szeged (“Migrant solidarity group”) Facebook group after realizing that Syrian and Afghan refugees were being left out on the streets at night. The group had 1,000 members join within three or four days and now has over 2,500 members. The group has attracted local medical students to help with the conditions, and sometimes, their random requests posted on the Facebook wall get immediately answered. As one volunteer said, they’ll post “something like ‘we are running low on apples’ and people bring them.”
- In France, the Welcome to France project run by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has also provided more than 6,200 nights of accommodation to refugees (some estimate that only half of all asylum seekers in France have access to accommodation). They also organize French lessons, meet-ups and clothing exchanges. Originally begun in Paris in 2010, it’s now expanding to cities like Dijon, Bordeaux and Valence.