***Updated Summer 2016: Due to the incredible response of donated of baby carriers in combination with the demographic changes in the region as the borders closed in Greece, Baby Boxes are becoming a greater need than collecting baby carriers for Syrian Refugees. Consider this alternative way to get involved by going to Carry the Future’s volunteer page.
After writing If Syria Was the USA (What is Happening in Syria and How to Make it Personal) I began searching in-depth for easy action ideas and other ways us average folk could make a difference in this ever-expanding refugee crisis. I wrote different posts for us (that to-date I haven’t published) highlighting organizations and compiling information that could possibly translate into meaningful action. Still, nothing really clicked as a tangible or personal way we could collectively be involved until I discovered a grassroots movement of individuals collecting baby carriers for Syrian Refugees.
Infants (Unfortunately) Traveling The World
My husband and brother-in-law, who apparently pay attention to the news, both sent me a story of some moms just north of where I live, in Glendale, CA who have been collecting baby carriers for Syrian refugees. They began a Kickstarter campaign to fund the purchase of new carriers and it just kept growing! It turns out that she knew people in Greece who could connect with Syrian families as they came off boats in droves, while forever having to hold their little infants and toddlers.
(Note: holding children on stormy seas, while also holding everything you still own on your back–it just isn’t that safe.)
If you are a parent–heck, if you’ve watched a baby for an hour in a place where it isn’t ideal to put the child down–you know how difficult it is to have no free hands while carrying your little one! It can be so frustrating and tiring, let alone adding the emotional trauma of the child on the move, without the familiar, being forced to wait, then go, and having little-or-no resources (warmth/food) and freedom. The combination of all those things usually doesn’t sit well with children.
If you’ve never experienced how difficult this can be, I have a newly turned two-year old who would just
greatly despise love it if you held him for a long time while he is hungry, teething and tired! I am generous, so I will let you try holding him yourself to get a feel for this! After all, experiencing something vaguely similar to what these refugees are living might increase your compassion 1000%. Even without the unpredictable seas and trauma of war/change, trust-me, you will quit your toddler-holding in less than ten minutes.
Although the situation in Syria wasn’t new, those images of that little boy who drowned in September (I keep telling you, fleeing a war in a raft just isn’t safe) tugged on the hearts of some average women who couldn’t stand it anymore and couldn’t not act. I am so glad they found a way to respond, because they’ve invited us to join them with Carry the Future.
Who Is Carry The Future?
Through their connections in Greece, they discovered a simple need that they could meet. Since, they’ve raised money to buy many more carriers than they could ever imagine, have partnered with distributors to get cheaper prices, and they’ve collected used baby carriers that would otherwise just sit around our homes and collect dust (at least mine was).
They’ve also organized a huge volunteer network around the United States and world, collecting, packing, and distributing these carriers. I mean, since I joined the network, they’ve had to revamp their groups and communications on Facebook multiple times because there are just so many of us interested in helping! Having been the coordinator for a needs network before, I know firsthand how much of a logistical nightmare this is.
But I am so happy there are volunteers willing to push through this organizational insanity, because it gives us a tactile way to respond. In turn, this always makes us invest and pour out more of ourselves, changing us from the inside-out. (Or is it from the outside-in?)
Last year, at this time, we world changers united and collected 75 bras to send to former victims of exploitation so they could sell our used bras and make a livelihood. This year, I am pretty sure our community can also collect or buy that many baby carriers.
Not only that, but we are highly encouraged to write notes to put in the pockets of these carriers, along with other useful things for small children in cold weather (socks anyone?).
This info is all pretty basic, but that is because this collective project is still just very simple. Still, if you don’t believe me, check out their website!
This Saturday, I am going to meet up with some of the local volunteers in the San Diego area as we pack-up some carriers we’ve collected, chat with some Syrian refugees who are already being resettled, and learn more about what a distribution trip looks like from someone who has gone. There is just something about hanging-out with other advocates who share your burden and are doing what little they can to love others, even if those neighbors are more than an ocean away.
I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, please be considering how we can scheme together to collect baby carriers. #WorldChangersUnite!
How to Collect Baby Carriers For Refugees
- Check out the Carry the Future website for FAQ on what to look for when scouring in the consignment stores or what to ask your mommy friends if they have (i.e., soft carriers, but not wraps)
- Sign up to be a volunteer, via their volunteer Facebook groups, so you can help collect & packing the carriers with others around you locally
- Donate a carrier or two via Kickstarter or their amazon.com wishlist (Carry the Future is still jumping through the hoops to become a non-profit, hence why this isn’t tax-deductible and you can’t give through their website).
- Consider joining a distribution trip in Greece (I am…)
- Donate $ for a Syrian refugee relief pack
- Send us small things for small children and/or kind encouraging notes to put into the baby carrier’s pockets
- LET US KNOW WHAT YOU DO! If you don’t send/give these things directly to me, but rather to the Carry the Future address in Glendale or buy carriers on Kickstarter, please still keep us in the loop.
Why? It is so much more powerful when #WorldChangersUnite, and I know you’d all love to know what we collectively accomplished here within the Average Advocate community. Contact me here.
The Compassion Collective for Refugees
I love grassroots movements, and I want to note that this isn’t the only grassroots movement going down to love Syrian Refugees with baby carriers and strollers (and so much more!). I have some acquaintances that head-up Together Rising and Momastery and they have also poured out their collective power to accomplish much together (check-out the beginning of it here).
They recently partnered up with some other renown people and their networks to form the Compassion Collective, which is essentially a not-so-flash-mob way to donate to the refugee crisis in Europe.
Things I love about the Compassion Collective are:
- You give between $5-$25. This. Is. Doable.
- I love that they work on the ground as well, with great partners, while supporting the local economy
- They are making a difference in multiple areas–not just baby carriers, but are also cool things like getting floodlight. Floodlights? Yes. Taking care of those on the boats, my friends.
So, if you want an easy way to change the world, just by clicking donate (and if you want, changing your Facebook picture), this might be the better option for you to help those Syrian families with little’s running from the homes they never wanted to leave.
If you liked this idea of how to respond, you might also like this free guide: