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November 20, 2020

Vermont Donor Shares Why She Supports Refugees

regina doing yoga in the mountains

Regina T. has been a generous monthly donor to USA for UNHCR for several years. She is a mental health professional, yoga instructor and world traveler who now calls Vermont home. USA for UNHCR is thankful for Regina’s support and excited to profile her in a series we’re calling: Why I Give.

The Why I Give series provides donors like Regina an opportunity to share why they support refugees and offer encouragement for other compassionate Americans to join them. Stories will feature the kindness of our donors from across the U.S. 

There are lots of worthy causes to support. What draws you to support refugees?

I grew up overseas and I saw the inequity in the world, between myself as an American child and the children living right next door to me. Those childhood experiences stayed with me. My family lived in Thailand right after the Vietnam war. Thailand was being flooded by refugees and I witnessed this. I just grew up with maybe more awareness than a lot of Americans about refugees. I’ve always felt this very close connection to the issue.

You’ve been donor for a number of years, what keeps you motivated to give?

USA for UNHCR informs me [about refugees] – not that I don't get information from other sources, but the information that I get from your newsletters, I can’t get from anywhere else. The stories are so personal and I can really see the practical implementation of my donation. Seeing what the donation is funding is very motivating. 

It’s one thing to be aware of refugee issues, but how do you connect emotionally?

Well, those newsletters make me cry. When they first come, I'm like, ‘Okay, I’m going to need to get a cup of tea, or maybe a glass of wine.’ But I do have to brace myself. I know it's not going to be easy to look at this information, but then when I end up crying it's because of how heartwarming the story is. And it just always amazes me that people who have so little, and are in some ways being given so little, are so grateful. They do so much with that little bit they are given.

Why is giving so important to you?

Every month I'm doing something, some little thing that helps a group of people I feel an enormous amount of empathy for. 

Another important reason is that what UNHCR is doing isn't just charity. Maybe sometimes it's charity in the sense that it's lifesaving. You're giving shelter, you're giving food, you're giving medical care, but you’re not going to survive without those things. But then there's education and there's job training programs and advocacy for refugees too.

Why do you think other Americans should join you in supporting refugees?

I think supporting refugees helps the whole world. I think it's easy sometimes for Americans to feel like we're in this isolated bubble. But refugees could have just as easily been born in this rural community in Vermont and I could just as easily have been them. When people are being displaced at the rate like they are now, and have nowhere to go, it creates a challenge for the whole world. We all suffer when one community suffers. And that's what I hope people understand. We are interconnected and we will be even more interconnected tomorrow.

How you can help

Join Regina and other compassionate Americans and give kindness this year. Becoming a monthly donor is the most efficient and effective way to help those fleeing conflict. Make a difference in the lives of refugees by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor