Potato Chip Cats: Charity Chat: Asylum Access

Monday, April 1, 2013

Charity Chat: Asylum Access

Imagine that you've been forced to leave your home country for complete and unending fear of persecution, torture, or death. You've brought your children and whatever belongings you could to an unfamiliar territory. You don't speak the language, you don't have any "papers" or money, or even access to your bank account. Do you think you could enter a courtroom alone, full of unfamiliar faces and difficult language barriers, and convince a judge that you deserve to stay? 

That's where Asylum Access is there to help. It is a non-profit organization working to make refugee rights a reality in first countries of refuge. With the goal of empowering genuine refugees, Asylum Access provides legal and community aid to prevent anyone from ever having to return to a dangerous life situation. 

The Facts:

A refugee is a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted...is outside the country of his/her nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country or return there..." This is distinct from someone who chooses to move for a better life or more job opportunities. 

Most refugees remain within Africa, Asia, and South America, having fled to countries adjacent to or nearby what was once their home nation. Refugees are entitled to rights in theory (read: constitution), but are often denied basic human rights in practice. 

The average stay in a refugee camp is 17 YEARS, and more than half of all refugees are children. This means that children need an education and parents and adults need to work, maintain and learn new skills, and provide for themselves and their families. A much more effective and long-lasting solution than food and humanitarian aid in a camp is needed. 

Taking Action:

Asylum Access is the only international organization working to make refugee rights a reality in first countries of refuge. Using a unique combination of five integrated strategies, Asylum Access provides grassroots assistance and changes the legal landscape for refugees and their host communities. Their work progresses the traditional approach of humanitarian handouts to a sustainable solution that gives refugees the tools to organize their own lives and support themselves.
  1. Legal Aid
  2. Community Legal Empowerment
  3. Policy Advocacy
  4. Strategic Litigation
  5. Movement-Building

Goals for the Future:

In its first five years, Asylum Access impacted over 1,000,000 refugees through successful 
policy advocacy and strategic litigation efforts. Our individualized legal assistance and community legal empowerment directly assist over 5,000 refugees per year across all three offices in Ecuador, Thailand and Tanzania. Asylum Access hopes to increase the number of people they help.

Asylum Access seeks to expand in the future by developing a Refugee Rights Toolkit,
so refugees can research and learn about their human rights, and so other organizations and
volunteer legal advocates can replicate our work. By 2015 we plan to set up offices in three
additional countries.

How to Help: 

We all know the saying "give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." But Asylum Access executive director, Emily Arnold-Fernandez, explains the difficulty refugees face: "Our poor people turn to us and say that they already know how to fish, but they're not allowed to use the ponds near them. So, we're opening up the ponds to help them feed themselves.”

Asylum Access is located in Ecuador, Tanzania, and Thailand, so the best way for people from our area to help is to donate. EVERY donation matters

Please help spread the word! Don't let fear and prejudice torment any more refugees.


  1. Wow what an amazing organization!!! Thank you for sharing about it!!!

  2. I love the idea of enpowerment to make a change. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow. I know there are refugees in Thailand after a recent report I wrote on Laos. I never thought about the funds needed to support them. This was an eye opening post, thank you.


Thanks for your input!