I would like to think that there is something that I could do to help the Syrian refugee situation that seems to have suddenly burgeoned into a major humanitarian crisis. Of course, this is not really the case. The situation has been escalating for months, if not years, and the bandaids that the western world has applied to this gaping wound have done little to save the thousands who are scrambling for safety and security or the many who have already died in their attempts to find freedom for themselves and their families.
It is almost embarassing to see our Canadian electioneering politicians using this as campaigning opportunities. I am definitely not a Conservative or Harper supporter, but our collective anger toward the current government, expressed as “why has our Canadian government done more already?” is counterproductive and also answered by the reality that most of its citizens, you and I, have been somewhat oblivious to the problem, sidetracked by the millions of our tax dollars that are being spent to investigate and prosecute Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallen. Pathetic, isn’t it?
I am not that confident in the promises of any of the political parties running in the upcoming Canadian federal election. They all promise more. Those promises are a bit hollow given past government aid and the obvious logistical legal hurdles that any refugee or immigrant has to jump to get into Canada. We are not the country with open arms and hearts that we would like to think we are. And it doesn’t matter if individuals are willing to donate to local initiatives to help bring refugee families to our communities if the government red tape is impeding that.
I have looked at several charity websites but can find no specific plans that would assure me that my donated dollar is going directly to help a refugee family from Syria. I have written a letter of inquiry to one local initiative but received no response yet. I have found a couple of websites of groups that say they are motivated to help Syrian refugees but exactly how they plan to do it or what their financial is to accomplish this is not evident.
In the past I have donated to the Humanitarian Coalition but I think that this is appears to be a clearing house for donations to Care Canada, Oxfam and Save the Children. They take their cut for promotion and it would seem to make more sense to select the other charity directly and donate to it without the 15% cut that this group takes just to be a relay. FYI, in 2014, Care Canada had a revenue of over $100,000,000, 31% of it from government. It spent over $35,000,000 in salaries (one is over $250,000) and another $4,000,000 on consulting and professional services. Oxfam had revenue and expenditures in 2014 in the realm of $23,000,000 with four employees making more than $120,000, $1,800,000 in fundraising expenses and about $650,000 in professional and consulting services. I run an unrelated charity funding infrastructure work in Africa and I know that admin expenses are definitely necessary in order to carry out the charitable work. I am also aware of the need for accountability to donors and disciplined accountability for expenditures. I think that folks should take some note and be aware of where exactly their money is going when they donate to a charity. You can search for current information on any registered Canadian charity on the CRA website ( http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html) It is worth a look.
I wonder how I can best help people fleeing from Syria as refugees.
Please help me by suggesting a registered Canadian charity with a track record of spending at least 80% of their money directly on their charitable programming (in this case, the direct support of a refugee family or families), don’t have a CEO making $100,000, and have a concrete plan in place to actually bring a refugee family or families to Canada (not just the will to do so). I will be happy to investigate it, lend support and encourage my friends to do the same if I can be assured that my support will be effectively spent.