Our Thanksgiving was a little bit crazy, a little bit mellow, and a little bit oh my gosh I can’t believe I ate pie at three meals today. The entire Ryan clan convened at my parents’ house, so we did a lot of game playing, taking walks in the rain (so Oregon!), eating (obvi) and snuggling.
All that together time made me a whole lot of grateful. And as I gave my girls extra hugs, played with my baby niece, had actual face-to-face conversations with family members who live across the country and took ridiculous photos to commemorate our time together, I gave thanks for our good fortune to spend time together.
I’m still riding the high of our rare days all together, especially since the last time we all gathered was at my brother’s wedding three years ago. I’m also remembering that many families—way too many—don’t have the privilege of coming together at home. So today, on Giving Tuesday, this is why I give to a cause close to my heart: to support families who have left their homes to escape danger, poverty or war.
(See my post from yesterday on more about Giving Tuesday and donating on any budget.)
Helping displaced children
Half the world’s 65+ million displaced people are children. That means that more than 30 million children have been forced to leave their home because of conflict, war, economic distress, environmental disaster or other catastrophes.
Looking at my two girls, I can’t imagine them fleeing such hardship.
I couldn’t help but think of them, too, earlier this year when I interviewed several staff from SOS Children’s Villages International Syria for a story I wrote. I learned how SOS used technology to reunite families and care for children separated from their parents or orphaned. (One in ten children worldwide grow up without the care of a parent.)
Stories from on the ground in Syria’s civil war
“I’ve seen a lot of people suffering from this war,” Sireen Kutieleh, ICT Coordinator at SOS Children’s Villages Syria, told me in our interview. “Every house in Syria is affected by this war—they lost their home or job or family members.”
Sireen, who is Palestinian but has been living in Syria and working for SOS for years, lost an aunt in Syria’s civil war. “I feel responsible to do something for these people. And in working with SOS in the emergency field, I can see direct benefit to those people.”
Sireen went on to tell me some of the stories of the children she has worked with. There was a young girl who suffered from a medical condition that left her unable to play without going blue from a lack of oxygen—who, thanks to SOS, had surgery and is now able to run like any other kid.
There were the two young boys who ended up at an SOS interim care center after being separated by family. Their grandfather searched all over Syria before finding them at the center and collapsing into tears of relief.
And there was the pregnant mother living in Aleppo—one of the most devastated cities in Syria—whom SOS brought to the relatively safe Damascus to deliver her baby.
After hearing Sireen tell me about these few children and families, I couldn’t help but imagine the countless other stories left untold. After all, an estimated 6 million Syrian children have been affected by the war. These kids need all the help they can get as they hunker down in war zones, flee bombs, cross borders and resettle in host countries.
Why I give: to make my gratitude count
I find myself thinking of these children today, Giving Tuesday. My donation to SOS Children’s Villages International won’t stop the Syrian civil war or even slow the tidal wave of families fleeing the violence. But I still give because my donation helps a little. And if we all help a little, we can do big things.
That’s one reason why I give today: to make a small positive difference in the lives of children and families that have lost too much. I give today to support them in a small way as they strive to provide for their families what we all want: a better, more promising future.
As Sireen told me, “I hope one day soon the war all over the world will end and we, somehow, will find the peace we dreamt of since childhood.”
That sounds like another reason why I give. What about you?
What group are you supporting on Giving Tuesday?
And tell me: Why do YOU give?