Lighting the way for refugees: Refugees welcome here

This week, my kids and I pulled on rain gear and headed into Portland at my kids’ witching hour. I ignored my better judgment that it was a terrible idea to go into public during the time when they’re usually screaming at the table because they want each other’s forks. The cause for throwing my caution to the wind: a candlelight vigil demonstrating our support for refugees.

I’m horrified that our federal government is upending this country’s foundational principle of welcoming people from overseas. Yet while an inclusive message is literally chiseled into our country’s most iconic symbol, America also has a long history of excluding people those in power deem to be too “other.”

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My heart breaks for those who have been affected by President Trump’s immigration and refugee ban. I also fear for those who have already made it to the U.S., because despite living through harrowing circumstances to get here, they face an uncertain future—again.

So with these “tempest-tossed” individuals and families in mind, I pushed aside my comparatively minor anxieties around rain and low blood sugar-induced tantrums. My girls and I showed up at the vigil to demonstrate to everyone that we, too, say, “Refugees welcome here.”

Refugees welcome here // our America // doing good // family activism // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

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?