Laura Murphy wrote -
I've been seeing the images of refugees from Syria and Iraq for months now. When I visited Croatia in August, refugees were entering that very country. When I traveled on to Sicily, boats were arriving daily from Turkey onto Italian soil. The "migrants" were all anybody could talk about on the European news.
Here in the US, we've been slower to recognize the enormity of the issue. Some fast facts for you:
- 12 million Syrians have fled their homes because of conflict; half are children.
- 4 million Syrians are refugees; most are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
- Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school.
- More than 700,000 Syrian refugees and other migrants risked their lives this year to travel to Europe.
- In addition to Syria, tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan, Kosovo, Albania, Eritrea, and other African and eastern European countries are also seeking asylum in the EU.
In the US and abroad, many politicians and media personalities have referred to these people as "migrants" and have sought to deny them asylum as refugees.
I've been watching, listening, seeing my fellow liberal-minded friends and family post to Facebook about how awful it would be to turn away those in such dire need, and yet, I've done nothing. Nothing.
Today is the end of doing nothing. Today, I saw these heartbreaking photos of Syrian child refugees, framed in the simple theme of "Where Syrian Children Sleep". http://www.buzzfeed.com/lynzybilling/where-syrian-children-sleep#.iunk1Z5ar5.
Seeing their faces and their little bodies trying to sleep, and reading their stories, I could all too easily imagine my Rowan and Declan in their place. As a parent who can readily provide her children with safety, comfort, education, and opportunity, I feel blessed, and compelled to act.
After considering donating to UNHCR and UNICEF (both certainly worthy organizations), I've decided to donate to the International Rescue Committee. Founded in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein, IRC has aided refugees for over eighty years. You can learn more about their impact, their ratings, and their efficiency here: http://www.rescue.org/irc-fast-facts.
Please consider contributing what you can. My goal is to raise $1,000. I'm starting the giving with $100, and after a short (age-appropriate) conversation about the meaning of charity, and about this particular cause, Declan and Rowan have opened their piggy banks and given $0.63 each - in the spirit of "every little bit helps."
If you have kids, hug them tight, and give thanks for the comfort and security you share. Please consider taking this opportunity to discuss with your kids the importance of giving, of compassion, and of global citizenship. Please consider donating. Thank you.