Why I give: Helping children and reuniting families in Syria

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.

On Giving Tuesday, this is why I give: to support kids and families who want to build a better future. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

(See my post from yesterday on more about Giving Tuesday and donating on any budget.)  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?