I’ve been following the escalating Syrian migrant crisis for a while. I’ve had the same thoughts that I’m sure so many Americans, so far removed from the situation, think whenever those news stories cross our news feeds.
“Wow, that’s terrible. We need to do something about that.”
“Those poor people, I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
“What can I do?”
The thoughts usually end in me sharing an article, written by someone else, across my personal social media channels, making a mental note to donate to the cause, and moving on with the rest of my day. Eventually, I push the horrors I’d read farther and farther from my mind. That’s not the case for me today, and I hope it won’t be for you, either.
The picture of a toddler, washed up on shore after drowning during his family’s attempted escape from their war-torn home has done to me what it has done to the rest of the world. It has given me an image that I can’t push out of my mind. It’s put a face to the crisis. The innocent, sweet, beautiful face of Aylan Kurdi, whose death is a tragedy that is becoming far too common in this migrant crisis, has the power to drastically change the world’s response to this humanitarian disaster. We can’t see that picture and not do anything.
Again, I ask myself, “what can I do?” and now, “what can we do?”
We did the research. Here’s a list of ways you can donate, including some charities to which individuals here on the Spaces Quarterly team have given.
(All listed charities have an “A” rating from Charity Watch)
UNICEF has been on the ground in Syria since the conflict began. It’s important to remember that of the 10 million people who have been displaced, about half are still trapped in Syria. UNICEF is trying to help the children still in country, working with partners to provide immunizations after a recent polio outbreak, as well as provide clean water, food, and education.
Save the Children is working to provide food for Syrian children and education to children in refugee camps
Mercy Corps provides clean water, food, and shelter, and sanitary supplies
CARE is working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, and trapped inside Syria. They provide food, sanitary services, and personal hygiene items. They are also working to help refugees attempting to cross into Serbia.
World Vision is aiding refugees and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan. They are providing personal supplies and clean water and sanitation. They also host a variety of programs for children, including remedial and supplemental education. They are on the ground in northern Syria, providing care, and recently furnished 5,000 baby kits to be distributed to Syrian refugees in Turkey.
As I sit finishing this article, holding my almost 3 year old daughter in my lap, hugging her a little closer this morning, I am reminded that this boy – Aylan Kurdi – who has become the face of the refugees and the spark igniting change, is someone’s child. The refugees in Syria and across Europe, and the ones struggling to be admitted to the US and Canada, they are people. They are parents, taking great risks and making dangerous journeys to find a safer place to raise their children. They are families, they are babies, they are children, they are human, just like us. Let’s do more than retweet or share an article that popped up on our social media timelines. Let’s do that, spread the word, but also come together to produce real change.
The world isn’t all bad. The charities listed here have people behind them. There are individual volunteers all over the world, banding together to help our fellow humans.
There’s someone handing water to Syrian children.
There are people all over the world clicking a “donate” button.
There are refugees taking steps beginning a brand new, wonderful life.
There are individuals in European countries signing petitions to allow more refugees into their homes.
A Mother is resting peacefully with her children.
A Father is holding his family in his arms, rejoicing that they are all safe and together.
There are volunteers helping refugee children continue their education.
There’s someone handing a warm meal to a refugee.
Let’s be part of a global movement to help each other, across borders, across countries, across cultures and ethnicities. Together, we can make a difference.
(Cover image courtesy of The Telegraph)