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How To Help Brussels

When terrorism strikes, it is imperative that we respond with informed compassion

In the aftermath of the attacks on Brussels Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek metro station, people from around the world are looking for ways to help. We’re going to outline some ways that you can support the survivors of the attack and the people of Brussels.

But first, we must remember that when terrorism strikes -- whether in Brussels, Paris, Ivory Coast, or anywhere in the world -- it is imperative that we respond with informed compassion. Jumping to conclusions or spreading hate speech only adds to the chaos in the wake of such events. Lumping an entire group of people together and labeling them as the enemy is the exact same logic terrorists use to bring death and destruction to innocent people. In dark times like this, it is our capacity for selflessness that should define us, not our prejudice or desire for vengeance. Here are a few ways you can do something meaningful to help people in Brussels right now.

Offer Shelter and Transportation

The compassion of people in and around Brussels has manifested many times over already. People in the area who can provide temporary shelter, transportation, or assistance are using #IkWilHelpen (“I want to help”) to let folks know they are available. #OpenHouse is also being used to help people find shelter in conjunction with porteouverte.eu, a live database of places where people can find temporary shelter.

One important note: Only use the hashtags #IkWilHelpen or #OpenHouse if you are in the Brussels area and can offer assistance. Retweet those you see opening their homes or giving transportation, but remember that in situations like this it is important to amplify those seeking or giving assistance and not clutter the message with anything that is not useful information.

Donate Blood As It’s Needed

Another way to help Brussels in the coming days and weeks is to support local efforts to assist survivors of Tuesday’s attacks through donations to relief organizations or, if you are already in the area, volunteering with groups offering aid. For folks in Belgium, the Red Cross in Brussels is updating info on their website about blood donation needs and locations where people can give blood to help survivors of the attacks.

Support Local Relief Efforts By Volunteering Or Donating Money

Serve The City Brussels, part of the international Serve The City organization, works to help people in need; according to their Facebook page, they will be expanding their weekly serving projects to help those directly affected by the attacks. Locals can sign up to volunteer, and people anywhere can make donations to support this organization that has been working in Brussels since 2005 to help refugees, the homeless, and anyone who is in need. Serve The City Brussels has canceled its scheduled events in response to the lockdown after the attack, so follow the organization for updates on what it will be doing and more ways you can help.

Connect Survivors To Supportive Resources

Survivor support organizations like the Survivors Assistance Network, an arm of The Foundation For Peace, and the Network of Associations of Victims of Terror offer guides for how to help survivors of attacks. It is imperative to stay informed and to make sure affected groups have their physical and emotional needs met to help them through this time of crisis.

Know The Impact Of Your Efforts To Help

Additional organizations will surely join the effort to help Brussels in the coming days and weeks. As you seek ways to lend a hand, make sure that you are supporting reputable organizations that are responding to actual confirmed needs of people on the ground. In response to tragedy, we can jump in with the best of intentions and unintentionally do more harm than good.

Take to social media with #Brussels to express your thoughts with the people of Brussels and remember all the people around the world who are affected by terrorism. It is up to us to respond to hatred with a hand to help those who suffer as a result. We are not powerless in the face of violence. When we come together with open hands and hearts, we find a power greater than terror.