Tuesday, September 08, 2015

How to help Syria's refugees

My heart has been heavy over the weekend because of the refugee crisis happening in the Middle East and in Europe right now. I was especially affected, as the whole world has been, by the death of little Aylan Kurdi. Together with his mother, his brother and many other Syrians crossing the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe, Aylan drowned and washed up on a Turkish beach.

It was everything about him that crushed my heart. How he was dressed for a journey that must've been so exciting because I'm sure his parents told him they were going to a better place, a safe place. His little shoes that look just like the little shoes I Velcro on my sons' feet every day. His red shirt just like the ones I put on my Iñigo, who wears red all the time. In fact, whenever 3-year-old Iñigo saw the photo of 3-year-old Aylan on the news or on my Facebook feed, he asked, "Is that me, Mama? Am I dead?"

I won't say anything more about this distressing crisis. I had thought before, when the Syrian civil war started almost 5 years ago, that it's so far away. Poor people. I hope they sort it out. I hate how apathetic that sounds but my last five years have been full—I got pregnant three times, gave birth three times, am raising beautiful boys, changed careers. Life has been amazing. Absolutely amazing and yet every day, I find something to complain about.

Not anymore.

If you would like to understand how the civil war in Syria started, this comic strip describes it succinctly: Syria's Climate-Fueled Conflict.

This short article also describes the history of the conflict with the environmental factor removed: Why People are Fleeing Syria.

Here is an old video of actress and director Angelina Jolie meeting a group of Syrian siblings. It is heartbreaking how they keep smiling through it all, like this is their life now and while they don't understand it, they persevere:

If you need to read something more recent, here is an essay of writer Neil Gaiman who visited a refugee camp, no, he visited a refugee city in Jordan: "So many ways to die in Syria now."

If you would like to help the Syrians and other refugees, you can donate to the following organizations:
  • Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) - They have three ships patrolling Mediterranean waters to rescue refugees.
  • Red Cross - I checked our local chapter if they have a way for us Pinoys to donate to the Syrian refugees. Found none (although there is a donate button there for victims of the devastating Nepal earthquake). So if you like Red Cross, donate via their international website.
  • Save the Children - Donations will buy safe drinking water, nutritious food, tents and sleeping bags, and even diapers and wipes. I especially like how they renamed this whole horror from "migrant crisis" to "CHILD crisis."
  • World Vision - Funds will go to providing the basics from water, food, blankets to education and a safe place for children to play.

Last of all but for me the most important, please pray for them—the people of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan all fleeing from the war in their countries. Pray for their safety, their health, their protection, their spirits, and that families will be kept together. Please pray for their evil governments, that they stop this horrific crime they are doing on their own people. Please pray for the countries these refugees are fleeing to, that their hearts will soften and accept these refugees into their countries especially now that winter is coming.

I am also praying for myself, for God to remove the now-burning hate anger for Assad and his regime, and for all the monsters who kill children and destroy families. There is a deep sadness in my heart that I just can't shake off. God have mercy on us all.
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  1. Grabe noh nakakaiyak talaga yung picture nya naiisip ko mga anak ko. We don't really have the right to complain. I will always include them in my prayers. Sana matapos na yang war na yan.

  2. Just like you, I see pictures of dead Syrian children in FB and my heart sinks heavy in my chest every time. The thing is, I don't know what to do or how to help but pray and cry out to God for help. Thank you for this post, especially the tips on how we can help.


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