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How can we help refugees in their time of crisis?

By David Hawley

My uncle, a primary school principal, inspired me to become a teacher. I recall a story that he shared with me about one of his teachers and what she did when a bird started building a nest on the windowsill of his classroom. The teacher promptly found a way to change her lesson plans to incorporate the many things that could be learned from watching the Robin go about building their new home, laying and protecting the eggs, and caring for the young. Had it been an IB Primary Years Programme unit of inquiry, students would have be asked to explore what action in their lives should follow from what they have learned observing the bird and its offspring.

Today, our students are witnessing a very different example of parents struggling to find and build a new home for their young during the refugee crisis.

refugeeA flow of millions who are seeking safety for their families. Some of our students are witnessing it first-hand in their surrounding streets, in parks and train stations. Others are observing it via social media and on television.

How is this experience being incorporated into our lesson plans and what is our call to action?

We would like to hear what schools are doing both inside and outside the classroom and will share what we learn.

Here in The Hague, we are collaborating with local organizations such as The Hague Welcomes Refugees, which is collecting this weekend (12-13 September 2015) at the Den Haag Centraal Station. There are many tips online about how you can help. Here are some of the organizations offering ways to help:

  • MOAS the Migrant Offshore Aid Station. A charity that runs independent rescue boats to rescue migrants.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières:The humanitarian agency has three rescue ships in the Mediterranean. The Guardian reports that on Tuesday 1 September alone they rescued 1,658 people in its biggest day of operations.
  • Aylan Kurdi Fund All proceeds will go to the humanitarian agency Hand in Hand for Syria.
  • Refugee Council A donation of UK£100 could pay for the education and travel for two children for a week.
  • Unicef It says a donation of £9 could provide an emergency water kit for a family.
  • Save the Children It says a donation of £50 could buy two hygiene kits including soap, towels and toothbrushes.
  • Islamic Relief Three families could be fed for a month on a donation of £210, the charity says.

Find more ways to help online and please share stories of what your school is doing to help and learn from this crisis.

David Hawley is the Chief Academic Officer at the IB.

Read about how IB student Clement Hodgkinson has helped refugees arriving in Calais here