A Practical Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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On Stacy Boulevard in Gloucester, Massachusetts there is a bronze statue dedicated to the women and children left behind when fishermen lost their lives to the sea. I saw this statue today and my mind traveled immediately to the women and children of Iraq and Syria, those casualties of war who are trying to find refuge around the world.

Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”*

Two years ago: My husband left for Eastern Turkey and the Syrian border on Friday from Logan International Airport. As I was getting ready to fly out from Mumbai, he was heading across the ocean in the opposite direction.

The trip came up unexpectedly and will be a quick one – in and out with medical supplies and more to drop off with organizations that are working with refugees. The hope is that he and the man who he is traveling with will be better equipped to funnel emergency supplies to those that most need them, as well as to engage with key personnel on the ground who are able to help.

AT THE TIME WHEN I FIRST WROTE THIS, over 2 million refugees had fled into surrounding countries. NOW, THE NUMBER TOPS 11 MILLION. The number is staggering and resources in the countries of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq are strained.

Refugee camps will break your heart and then mend it in a matter of seconds: Break your heart for the need, mend it with the picture of redemptive resilience.  I am anxiously waiting his return with hopes that we can do more in the future to help.

But in the mean time there are hygiene and baby care supply kits that are practical and easy to assemble.  They are gathered by either International Orthodox Christian Charities or Church World Service and disseminated to Syrian refugees in various parts of the world.  It’s something that any of us can do. We can make them if we’re alone, we can make them with our families, and we can make them with a church community or a neighborhood. It just takes the proper supplies and an assembly line type of process. In the words of my husband these are “vital, vital, vital” to the ongoing crisis of housing and caring for refugees.

I’ve included the link here to learn more about making these kits but to make it easier, here is what you need: (Important note – don’t add anything to the kits, make them exactly as instructed) 

To assemble a Baby Care Kit you will need:

  • Six cloth diapers
  • Two T-shirts or undershirts (no onesies)
  • Two washcloths
  • Two gowns or sleepers
  • Two diaper pins
  • One sweater or sweatshirt (Can be handknitted or crocheted)
  • Two receiving blankets (one can be a hand-knitted or crocheted baby blanket)

Items must be new and under 12 months in size. Wrap items inside one of the receiving blankets and secure with both diaper pins. Click here or here for further instructions!

To assemble a Hygiene Kit you will need:

  • One hand towel measuring approximately 16″ x 28″ (no fingertip or bath towels)
  • One washcloth
  • One wide-tooth comb
  • One nail clipper
  • One bar of soap (bath size in wrapper)
  • One toothbrush (in original packaging)
  • Six standard size Band-Aids®

Place all items in a one-gallon plastic bag with a zipper closure, remove excess air from bag, and seal. Please do not add toothpaste to the Hygiene Kit. Cartons of toothpaste that have an extended expiration date will be added to Hygiene Kit shipments just before shipment. Click here or here for further instructions!

Another suggestion: Hold a “Refugee Awareness” night at your church. You can find facts and figures at UNHCR to give people a sense of the scope of the problem. Have them bring items for the kits and make them right there.

For more information including how to mail the kits please go either of these websites: http://www.iocc.org/kits.aspx or http://www.cwsglobal.org/get-involved/kits/

IMPORTANT LINKS:

Update September 7,2015: Make sure you check any charity you give to through this Charity Navigator so you can ensure your donation is spent well. Here are the top rated sites for giving to Syria!

Two smaller groups that donate directly to those in need with almost no overhead costs are Nu Day Syria and Conscience International.

I look forward to hearing from many of you as to how it worked to make these and who you got together to assemble them. Do you have other ideas? Would love to hear some of them through the comments!

*Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision on the fly leaf of his Bible

18 thoughts on “A Practical Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

  1. Thank you for these great ideas. As I am in Italy I assume that we would drop off these kits at whatever drop locations we find, right?

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    1. Elena – so glad you came by. Let me see ifI can find out some information for you in Italy. I have connections in Greece, but no other places in Europe. Thanks for your heart and willingness to help!

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    1. Thanks Jessica. Love the practicality of these kits. A great way to get people involved. Our family made 15. I’m suggesting to my college daughter to get a bunch of her friends together and they can each pay for one.

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