Where the Problem Started
The crisis became well known with the Arab Spring protests that began between 2009 and 2010 with the Tunisian Revolution which inspired the toppling of long-standing dictatorships and inhumane regimes all-throughout the middle east. Several civil wars took place in a four year period as governments and systems were replaced by others.
Bashar al-Assad, Syrian dictator, refused to relinquish power during the rebellion and battled with astonishing violence including torturing children, gassing his own people with chemical weapons, and attacking hospitals.
In 2011, Syria had a population of 22.4 million people. Today, more than 250,000 people have been killed and about 11 million Syrians were left with a decision to stay and fight for their lives, or flee with their families. Of those 11 million, roughly 8 million people fled within Syria and 5 million left the country as of 2016. These numbers continue to increase at an exponential rate.
Displaced Syrians have been scattered within their own country and around the world. Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey are the main destinations for Syrian refugees today. However, an increasing amount of refugees seek a greater future within the confines of Europe, specifically Greece, Germany, and France due to lack of opportunity in border countries.
What led us to action
Hands 4 Others was founded in 2009 with a modest challenge: to look beyond the comforts of our comfortable lives and do something for others in need. Since its founding, Hands 4 Others has empowered thousands of young people around the world to help solve the world’s water crisis. Together, we have brought clean water to over 225,000 people in over 15 countries. Hands 4 Others continues to create platforms for young people to engage and grow as they help solve the world’s water crisis.
But we won’t stop there…
As the refugee crisis became more and more of a globalized issue, we felt more and more compelled to help. Alongside dedicated partners on the front lines of humanitarian aid, Hands 4 Others has successfully aided thousands of refugees in medical care, disaster relief, and community development.
Where the Problem Stands Today
A fluctuating 95% of refugees reside in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon. A growing 2.5 million women, men, and children have been unable to go back to their country in fear of death. They are also unable to build a life for themselves in their current residence due to laws prohibiting them from receiving work visas or public education for their children.
In Greece alone there are 65,000 refugees, many of which are unaccompanied minors - children without access to healthcare, food, or clean drinking water. Of single refugee women traveling to Greece for safety, 80% are abuse victims that were assaulted in or on their way to refugee camps. Both women and children displaced from their homes live in fear of assault or capture. Many refugees have been met with closed doors due to government’s lack of resources to support and integrate.
NGO’s such as Hands 4 Others and Help Refugees are some of the few nonprofits still actively providing aid to refugees in Chios, Greece and Aleppo, Syria.
Hands 4 Others is leading efforts in the United States to fund and advocate for refugees displaces in and around the Middle East, as well as provide development and basic necessities to refugees in Europe.
Hands 4 Others unites itself with key partners around the world to ensure that every initiative is efficient, ethical, and sustainable.
H4O leads grassroots and student-led initiatives to finance humanitarian projects abroad. For the refugee-crisis, these projects are centered around pediatric care and medical relief in crisis areas of Syria and community development in refugee camps in and around Europe. This is acted out with educational programs, water systems, and basic resources.
The money raised through grassroots and student-led efforts are allocated towards special projects implemented by H4O staff and H4O partners (other nonprofits and government organizations). The nature of the project determines how “hands-on” the H4O staff is in the process. For community development, H4O serves as an outside financier and allows locals to develop local programs. For certain water projects, H4O-led teams of students are taken to help install systems along with the partners. For refugee aid in Syria, the hands-on work is left fully to the partners due to the nature of the critical areas. For refugee aid in Turkey, France, and Greece, H4O-led teams are deployed two to six times a year for hands-on aid.
There is an ethical dilemma with every nonprofit based in the United States. We must avoid the trap of coming into a hurting area, handing out band aids, then leaving. Many nonprofits go into an area and implement temporary solutions, then go back to the US and repeat the process.
Hands 4 Others is passionate about long-term sustainability, community empowerment, and ethical processes. This is why every partner is a local partner.
Hands 4 Others implements most of its programs utilizing people that are in-country and a part of the culture. We have found this to be the only way to accomplish long-lasting growth and healing in displaced communities.