On September 6, 2015, nearly four years after the conflict began, I wrote a post about how to help the tens of thousands of displaced Syrian refugees. You can find the content of that post beneath this essay. Friends, that was almost two years ago. Yet the battle wages on.
I don’t have to tell you all what’s happening; we all watch the news. Most of us with our TVs set to mute with the close captioning turned on, so as to not frighten our own children. Because we can still protect them. Because if we choose to, we can turn off the news, or set it to mute, or simply never think about it.
Because we’re pretty damn lucky.
Sure, there are terrible things going on in the lives of many of us, but praise God, being poisoned by our own government is not one of them. As mothers, I know our hearts collectively ache for the babies being tortured. For the preschoolers being pulled out of the rubble. For the mothers sobbing over lost children.
And as mothers, we know that we are a freaking force to be reckoned with. No, maybe we can’t dictate foreign policy or change the course of human history, from our living rooms, but there are things that we do have the power to do. Our collective voices crying out for change could be deafening! I know many are asking, as I have, “But what can I do?” so thanks to some other bloggers and tweeters and a little hang time with my dear friend Google, I’ve come up with a little list. It is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a start.
The International Rescue Committee is one of my favorite organizations. As a family, we donate to them monthly (I’m not saying that for bragging rights! I’m simply sharing because it is an organization in which I truly believe.) They have local offices all over the country that offer volunteer/financial opportunities to donate to this cause and many, many others.
Sunrise USA is one of the worldwide leaders in providing relief to Syrians still living in Syria. Their website allows you to donate to specific areas of need (food, education, healthcare, or an area of greatest need, etc).
Hand in Hand for Syria I literally got goosebumps when I read about the work HIH is doing for those still on the ground in Syria. HIH offers unique opportunities for those who want to get involved. You can request a fundraising or volunteering packet for more ideas (some are as simple as promoting their fundraising campaigns on social media). OR, and this was the goosebumps part, if you like to knit/crochet (like me, because I’m 95-years-old) they offer an opportunity for you to send your gently-used or like-new scarves, teddy bears, blankets, mittens, etc. to those in need!
These three things may not actually help end the conflict in Syria, or the famine in southern Sudan, or any of the terrible things happening right here in our own backyards, but they are something. And doing something is a hell of a lot better than doing nothing.
At least, it’s a pretty good place to start.
This isn’t exactly standard fare for OohBother, but today, it is far more important.
Right now there are tens of thousands of refugees making their way across Europe. Some of them are sick. Some of them are dying. All of them are just trying to get where they are going. Somewhere they hope, is better.
As a mother, my heart broke when I saw the lifeless image of 3-year-old, Aylan Kurdi. Knowing it would bring me to tears, I never intended to seek out the photo, but it was part of a news clip I watched earlier today. I hate that it took such a tremendous loss for me to feel impassioned enough to do something.
According to reports from the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis is calling for all Catholic parishes and communities across Europe to open their doors to Syrian refugees.
“Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every shrine of Europe house a family, starting from my diocese of Rome… I address myself to my brother bishops of Europe … that in their dioceses they will support this appeal of mine, remembering that Mercy is the second name of Love… ‘Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'”
His message of extending hope and help to those in need, should inspire us all. Whatever your faith, I hope his words might serve as a call to action.
This article from Public Radio International lists six reputable organizations that are accepting donations for refugees. Please give if you can.
And help spread the word.