How to help in the Syrian refugee crisis: reacting to Aylan’s needless death

how to help syrian refugees
-Warsan Shire, via UndocuMedia

Lately, I’ve had a really difficult time filtering out anything sad or upsetting. I faced the same thing when Peeper was a baby: My defenses are nonexistent, so anything difficult—from a mildly emotional TV show to a news story about yet another black person killed by police—floods me with the irrepressible need to cry.

As a result, I tend to hide from the news.

The other day, though, I was driving Kiwi to a doctor’s appointment and turned on NPR. I heard a reporter translate for a grieving father, who described the horrific moments that led up to the death of his entire family.

I had to turn off the radio: My eyes instantly overflowed, and it was hard to see the road.

By now, you’ve probably heard of, read about or even seen photos of Aylan, the 3-year-old Syrian refugee whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach after the boat carrying him, his family and other refugees capsized. The image of his tiny lifeless form has broken the hearts of millions.

Aylan’s story has made it too much for me to simply tune out the negativity. I’m done just turning off the radio. I had to do something, even if it was small.

So yesterday I donated to Tearfund, a nonprofit that provides basic necessities like hygiene kits, water and camp stoves to refugees from the Syrian civil war—the “worst humanitarian crisis of our time,” according to a UN official.

It is overwhelming to sift through the number of organizations helping in Syria and the surrounding countries that are absorbing a staggering number of fleeing Syrians. That’s why this article from the UK’s The Guardian helped me: It briefly summarizes a handful of nonprofits that are working in the area and what they’re doing to help.

For any Portland- or Vancouver-area readers, you can donate used or new baby carriers to be brought to Syrian refugees, who often have to carry their children for hundreds of miles to reach aid. You can drop them off at Floating World Comics in Northwest Portland before September 15; here’s the link for more information.

Will you join me in doing something, no matter how small? Thousands of Aylans are out there, and too many people need our help for us to sit by.

What have you done to help? What other ways can we contribute?

0 thoughts on “How to help in the Syrian refugee crisis: reacting to Aylan’s needless death

  • September 7, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    You’re right in that it’s overwhelming to sift through the various organizations and try to understand which ones are really making an impact, so thank you for highlighting Tearfund and UK’s The Guardian’s article.

    • September 9, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      Happy to, Pech. The article took care of some of the legwork for me. I hope it’s helpful to you too.

  • September 8, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    So great that you acted and helped! I’ve been reading up on the crisis since seeing that photo to decide how/where I can contribute. There are a lot of groups starting to coordinate in Canada (private sponsorship etc…) as well as humanitarian aid. I’ve been looking for something local but haven’t found it yet. So may soon give to efforts in Toronto bring in refugees.

    • September 9, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      That’s a great idea. The thing about such a huge crisis is there are plenty of ways to help.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge