When you think about vulnerable populations, such as refugees fleeing war or formerly trafficked survivors, where do you picture them to be based? Chances are most people do not immediately think of their own communities. In reality, every area has vulnerable populations facing challenges unique to their demographic and location and it is up to the local community members themselves to not only identify the needs of these vulnerable populations but to directly act in support.
CeaseFire, a student organization at UC San Diego, is focused on exactly on this. The group organizes events with refugees, trafficking survivors, and experts on these issues to engage their classmates and spark their interest to learn more about ways they can help. In the long run, they seek to build relations between the school and local organizations that work with victims of war and abuse (including refugees, trafficking survivors, etc.) to inspire in future events for raising awareness, fundraising, or building partnerships with survivors who can lead the initiatives themselves.
“[Refugee communities and refugees who were trafficked while fleeing war were communities] I was determined to shed light on, and I made the decision to make Ceasefire its own club despite the challenges that I was about to face in establishing a new student organization.”
Ashley Halabi, Founder of CeaseFire
01 : Building off of informative events, community organizers are most effective when they can create spaces and activities for the broader population to directly engage people who are representative of vulnerable populations.
02 : Plan farther in advance than the team expects to need, even for events that seem straightforward, since the amount of effort and attention to detail required to budget, coordinate, and communicate can quickly add up for students who already have busy schedules.
03 : Leaders must make a critical decision to either define their own organizations or to merge with established and similarly-focused groups; leaders should evaluate how aligned the mission of other groups are and how drastically different the ability to make impact would be.
04 : Invest in recruiting board leadership that is significantly and consistently committed to sustain the long-term impact of the organization, even if that detracts from energy invested in short-term activities.
05 : Leaders often face the reality that they cannot achieve all of the ambitious objectives they set out to originally achieve due to limited time and resources; however, every step is progress and creating the opportunity for others to carry the torch is a success in itself that will lead to impact beyond the time leaders are a part of the work themselves.