Engaging the refugee crisis | Eugene Cho

by | Nov 27, 2017

Recently, a small team and I from One Day’s Wages were able to visit and assess our projects and partnerships in response to the Syrian and Iraq refugee crisis in the Middle East. We specifically visited Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan.

It’s truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local, indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and most importantly, to hear directly from refugees. I’ve read so many articles about the plight of refugees over the years and I thought I was prepared…but to be honest, many of our conversations were jarring and heartbreaking.

We heard stories of uncertainty because the Syrian crisis has been ongoing for nearly seven years and produced approximately 5.5 million refugees. We heard stories of pain because as one person shared, “everyone has lost something or someone.”

But hopelessness wasn’t the only narrative. If we simply listen to political pundits, we would only hear one perspective: that the situation is a lost cause…that these refugees are a lost cause and are not worth our energy, empathy, or compassion.

We don’t have all the answers or an easy, single solution, but we believe that every single human being matters – especially those who are particularly vulnerable. The challenges are real but in the midst of them, we want you to know the profound stories of hope, tenacity, and courage.

Stories of families fighting to stay together – even as individual members were offered passage to other countries.

Stories of indigenous leaders mentoring young girls about the dangers and harm of early marriage and the importance of self-worth and dignity.

Stories like Wafao who is from Raka, Syria and is living in an unofficial refugee camp in Lebanon. She used to work long hours as a day laborer in the fields to make a living, but thanks to training she received, she’s now a seamstress and can work more reasonable hours at a job she enjoys. Her home in Syria was destroyed by the war, but her dream is to eventually return, rebuild her home, and continue working as a seamstress. Her story reminds us of her strength but also the reality that in a situation where women are particularly vulnerable, it’s important for them to have safe, meaningful ways to provide for themselves and their families.

“Please don’t forget us.”


These were the words that we heard in nearly every conversation and context. This is what we want to relay to you. Let’s resist the urge to just forget, move on, or listen to the lie that these refugees aren’t worth it.

ODW has been engaged in this work for several years already. We’ve engaged in assistance for education and schools, winterization kits, child-friendly spaces, and food crisis. We’re not forgetting. In fact, we’re even more committed and we’re asking you to join us.

Here’s how: make a gift to our Giving Tuesday Campaign to provide relief for refugees. Your support will provide meals, education, job training, counseling, and many more needed services for some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Any and all amounts will make an impact. Make yours today.

Thank you for remembering. Thank you for caring. Thank you for acting.

Eugene Cho, Founder of One Day’s Wages

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