When you're a refugee in a new place, you're facing a lot of unfamiliar things. New foods. New languages. New schools. New neighbors.

That's where organizations like World Relief come in. Among other services, the Baltimore-based nonprofit helps resettle refugees, partnering with local churches across the U.S. to help refugee families feel more at home in their new communities. With President Trump's travel ban targeting Muslims, however, the nonprofit's facing a new, discouraging obstacle.


Photo by Ron Sachs - Pool/Getty Images.

World Relief announced it's closing five offices across the country — laying off over 140 of its workers in the process — due to President Trump's travel ban barring refugees.

"Our staff at each of these locations have served diligently and sacrificially — some of them for many years — and we are deeply saddened to have to make this difficult decision," World Relief President Scott Arbeiter said in a statement, noting the tragic move will hinder the group's ability "to serve the world's most vulnerable people."

Even in the relatively short amount of time that the travel ban was signed and enforced before courts blocked key provisions, its ramifications are still causing refugees — and the groups aiding them — to suffer. What's more, the travel ban — announced by a president elected largely for his commitment to put American workers first — is now causing job losses: World Relief's woes will result in over 140 employees losing their jobs.

Despite its struggles, however, the nonprofit is devoted to doing whatever it can to make a difference.

“The unfortunate truth is that given the unprecedented nature of the global refugee crisis, there are simply more people than ever that need our support and our compassion," CEO Tim Breene said in a statement.

If the news out of World Relief is frustrating to you, here are six ways you can keep fighting for refugees in the wake of the group's setbacks:

1. Keep calling Washington. It works.

The Senate has been overwhelmed with phone calls from constituents across the country. Sen. Chuck Schumer's office told CNN that roughly 1.5 million calls were pouring into the Senate every day the first week of February, with the vast majority focused on Trump's controversial cabinet picks and executive orders.

John McCain probably won't personally call you back. But you should still call. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Outraged callers won't guarantee success all the time (take Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' razor-thin confirmation, for instance). But it works better than most voters realize (case in point: Congress' attempt to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics). Call your senators and members of Congress and tell them you're against Trump's travel ban.

2. Pledge to register as a Muslim if Trump attempts to start a Muslim registry.

Trump has suggested a national Muslim registry would help keep us safer from terrorism, yet again dangerously blurring the lines between religious extremists and the vast majority of Muslims. This sort of fearmongering is used to justify his travel ban. Regardless of your personal faith, you can stand with all Muslims by pledging to register yourself.

3. Support the vital organizations aiding refugees in the U.S. and around the world.

Conflict in Syria has caused a refugee crisis unlike anything we've seen since World War II, with millions of families torn away from their communities and forced to rely on the goodness of others for food, shelter, and protection.

Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images.

There are many groups of all sizes doing vital work helping refugees this very moment, and they could use our support: Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, White Helmets, Karam House, Syrian American Medical Society, Islamic Relief USA, UNHCR, Oxfam, Save the Children, and, yes, World Relief.

4. Post the news about World Relief on Facebook along with this video explaining why refugees are not the problem.

Over 700k refugees have resettled in the United States since 9/11. During that time, not a single one has carried out an act of terror. Video by Valerie Bischoff.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Your friends and family should see how anti-refugee rhetoric and policies affect far more people than refugees themselves — like the 140 World Relief employees who lost their jobs due to unfounded fear.

5. Sign a petition against the ban, then spread the word.

A MoveOn.org petition against Trump's travel ban — which states "targeting people based on their religion is wrong and unconstitutional" — has reached nearly 400,000 signatures. Help it reach 1 million.

6. Support the refugees in your own community, who — now more than ever — need to know they're welcome here.

As TED Ideas notes, there are plenty of practical ways you can help folks integrate into your city, especially if you live in a region with a high population of refugees. Start a soccer team — even if you can barely kick a ball — and make sure to include refugee kids. Volunteer to help a refugee student learn English. If you're a business owner, hire them (or if you know a business owner, nudge them in the direction to do so).

1951 Coffee Company in Berkeley, California, hires refugees to help give them a leg-up after resettling in the U.S. Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images.

Trump's travel ban targeting Muslims is immoral, ineffective in keeping us safe, and bad for U.S. workers.

In the U.S., there have been more than enough terrorist attacks since 9/11 carried out by right-wing extremists — and none from refugees. The vetting process to enter the U.S. as a refugee is long and arduous and certainly not one that leaves us vulnerable to terrorism, experts have argued.

Don't let the ban — and the misguided views of Islam that's helped buoy it — become normalized. Stay outraged.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

Keep Reading Show less
Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less