From three earthquakes in Mexico, to Hurricane Irma wreaking havoc across the Caribbean, to a refugee crisis in Myanmar – the world has been rocked by humanitarian crises in recent weeks. It can leave us here in the UK feeling useless and asking what can we actually do to help?
That feeling might well be multiplied among our young people. To see children and teenagers like themselves suffering around the globe, and not being able to do anything about it can be hard to comprehend.
International children’s charity World Vision has been distributing aid in Mexico City, where more than 200 people died last week following a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Amazingly, the people of the city came together and worked side-by-side with rescuers, desperately searching for signs of life and pulling people from the rubble.
Our staff were joined by more than 300 volunteers – many of them young people – who wanted to do their bit to save lives. It was a humbling response; and one that shows the strength of the people of Mexico in the face of adversity.
Of course, here in the UK it’s more difficult to get physically involved following a crisis like this, but we’re still able to help. Here are a few ways your youth group could get involved.
1. Get informed
The first thing to do is to learn about the issues at hand. Compile some news clippings, and encourage your young people to take a look through and see what’s going on around the world. Check out the World Vision UK website for helpful summaries of various humanitarian crises, and how we’re responding.
When terrible things happen, we all need time and space to process. Natural disasters and other crises like them can prompt huge questions – where is God in all of this? Why suffering? Why these people? It’s vital we address these, and offer young people the opportunity to reflect. How about setting apart space in a session to have your youth ask those questions, and then think about how they can respond?
As a Christian organisation, we at World Vision believe prayer changes things – and we rely on the prayers of our brothers and sisters around the world.
Why not set up interactive prayer stations for your young people to help them engage in prayer around a particular crisis? One might focus on the victims of a tragedy, another on rescue and relief workers; still another might be for the churches in the area as they open their doors and respond to the crisis.
4. Write to your MP
Advocacy is a vital part of how aid agencies respond to disasters. We’d love to have youth groups appealing to the UK government on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Let your MP know that you care about these issues, and ask them to advocate themselves in government.
Of course, we would love for youth groups across the UK to help us in our work around the world by fundraising on our behalf. You could hold a bake sale after church one day, host a fun run or Share a Meal to raise money. Every little bit helps, and we are so grateful to our generous supporters who help us to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and their families across the globe.
To find out more about World Vision’s work, click here.
To get your free copy of Premier Youth and Children’s work and keep up to date with what’s happening in your field, click here.