Heading into the final days of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, there have been a number of miscellaneous and diversified storylines centered around everything from athletes and countries to the conditions of the hosting city. Sports ranging from badminton, to handball, cycling, swimming and even equestrian dressing, highlight the thousands of phenomenal and diverse athletes that the globe encompasses. Regardless of what events these athletes pour their blood, sweat, and tears into, they are equally represented by their respective countries, and showcase it with pride when given the opportunity. This opportunity to be on the stage of a lifetime is granted at the hands of whichever country one belongs to, and the medals that hang around their neck glorify their individual achievements in addition to their nation’s pride.
However, before these 2016 games, the word opportunity could have very well been juxtaposed for some when referring to the Olympic Games. For the first time ever, the International Olympic Committee has given those who previously were denied representation the chance to feel like they belong.
The IOC comprised a 10 member team of refugees featuring athletes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Syria. The symbolism behind this unprecedented action has highlighted the IOC’s mission for this decision to “act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis”.
The 10 person team consists of two Congolese refugee judo athletes, two Syrian swimmers, five South Sudanese runners, and an Ethiopian marathoner. For these athletes, the opportunity to represent themselves at the Rio 2016 Games is quite a distance, literally and figuratively, from the homelands in which they have been separated from.
During the Olympic opening ceremony, the Refugee team strode through the Parade of Nations displaying flags with the Olympic logo on them. The significance of that moment stretches far beyond just a parade, beyond the individual athletes, and beyond a flag, evident by a statement from Yusra Mardini. The Syrian swimmer gave the world a perspective of what this experience truly means to her, by saying “In the water, you forget which country you are from. You are a swimmer.”
As important and heartfelt as the story behind the first ever Refugee Olympic team is, it sheds light on an extremely prevalent issue within our global society today. The facts of the current world refugee crisis are astronomical, currently totaling up to over a world record 65 million people displaced around the world, with an estimated figure of about 20.2 million refugees fleeing wars and persecution, the most since 1992, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
With this world record of human displacement, compassion, empathy, and humanitarian aid is needed more than it ever has been before. Millions of people will live in exile for years to come, and be inaccessible to proper food, nutrition, shelter, health care, and many other life necessities. The highly rated charities listed here provide services for food, clothing, medical assistance, and more. Before you decide to make a donation, make sure that you know exactly what you would like it to accomplish and make sure that the charities in which you consider offer that specific type of aid.
Here are a number of 3 and 4-star charities with causes geared towards assisting the overall well being of those affected by the world refugee crisis: