Aid Workers – All Faiths, Ages, Nationalities

A young volunteer with the Boat Refugee Foundation (Bootvluchteling) of the Netherlands helps an arriving refugee couple in Athens Greece.
As previously mentioned in a post, refugee aid organizations are collaborating in Greece where the refugees from war impacted areas are arriving.  Caritas Athens coordinates the activities of many of these agencies to avoid overlap and fill gaps as best they can.  Caritas Athens and Catholic Relief Services are partnering with an organization that I would like to tell you about.

It seems one of the better characteristics of human nature is to come to the aid of others who are in need.  The act of helping others without regard to their political, religious, national or any other category we can conceive of is something that most people are willing to do.  The idea of being merciful to others; seeking good for them and alleviating suffering, is not only thousands of years old and buttressed by Christian Scripture (i.e., The Good Samaritan) but it is something that thousands of aid workers do daily all around the year.  This army of workers are different in many ways.  They have their own religious, political, national and age differences.  They are men and women, clergy and secular, and rich and poor.  One thing that they have in common is that almost all of them are volunteers, giving of their time for one reason: to simply help other human beings.

One such group of volunteers comes from the Netherlands and is called the Boat Refugee Foundation (or Bootvluchteling in Dutch).  The volunteers with the Boat Refugee Foundation who were at the port in Athens were generally young (20-30), energetic and extremely engaged in helping the refugees.  These young volunteers spend on average 10-14 days assisting Caritas Athens and then return to the Netherlands.  The truly amazing and impressive part is that they do all of this as unpaid volunteers, pay for their own flights to Athens, and their hotel and meals while volunteering.  In effect, they pay out of their own financial resources to help others.   We were so very impressed with their work and the joy they brought to the refugees they encountered.  As a CRS Global Fellow it was great to see the spirit of collaboration exhibited by this Caritas Partner.  Thanks for your good work Bootvluchteling!

Peace –



2 thoughts on “Aid Workers – All Faiths, Ages, Nationalities

    1. Hi Beth,

      Thanks for your question. Before I get into the financial aspects of how to help I want to suggest to you some other things that can also help.

      First, you can pray for the refugees, that they may travel safely and find safe haven. You can pray for the aid workers who are sometimes overwhelmed physically and emotionally. You can pray that those who see any and all refugees as terrorists, that they may come to realize that the refugees are really just fellow humans seeking safety and peace.

      Second, you can learn more about what is happening. The situation is evolving and can rapidly change. Websites like and contain the latest information.

      Third, you can advocate. We can all help our friends to understand the situation better and who the refugees are. Too often they listen to politicians who have not been there on the ground (and who met benefit by fear tactics). Sharing the reality of the situation both the good and bad is helpful. The truth is always the best course. We can also urge our lawmakers to see the reality of this crisis and provide assistance which up until now has been one of the hallmarks of American values.

      Finally, you can give; but don’t give items like coats, gloves, hats or anything else. Usually the cost of getting the items to the area in need is greater than just buying new things near where they are needed. Also, agencies that can purchase goods near the point of contact with the the refugees boost that local economy. If you want to give, give money. Through CRS (which I am most familiar with) you can go online at and give a gift and designate it for the refugee crisis. Other agencies off the same kind of opportunity, but as I said, I know CRS best.

      Beth, I hope this helps you think about all the ways you can help. They each have meaning and will surely benefit those in need.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Deacon Steve –


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