I didn’t know what photo to put up for this post.
Often when I have a specific topic I want an image for I’ll do a google image search. Try searching for Syrian refugees. It’s picture after picture after picture of kids just the same age as your kids. Except they are often behind wire fences. They are homeless and afraid and bewildered. Their future is a big question mark.
I thought about putting this picture of two little boys laughing and playing together. But it was too stabbing.
As readers may know the refugee crisis is always on my mind. I talked to my husband about how I was going to write to my local MPs but I didn’t get around to it. When I saw the image of the drowned toddler, my son’s age, I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. I wrote a scathing letter to our Prime Minister. It came from the heart.
This is a global humanitarian issue. This is not a Europe issue or a Middle East issue. This is an issue of humanity and compassion. Life is a lottery and we ended up on the lucky side but our kids could have just as easily been behind that fence or on that boat.
And I believe this is also more than just about Syria. There are conflicts everywhere. We need to rethink immigration and act now.
A few links:
-the Syrian crisis explained in cartoon in 5 minutes
–this poem from Somali-British Poet Warsan Shire will make you weep
–the argument for Canada to take in 20 times more refugees
–practical ways to help refugees
What YOU can do:
-write to our Prime Minister Stephen Harper
-sign this petition to Change the Canadian government’s response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis
-sign this petition to Help Canadian with Syrian Relatives Trapped Abroad
-you can also donate money – there are some ideas here (along with an excellent article)
Beautiful scenes welcoming refugees:
-A small German town welcomes Syrian refugees
-English football fans support refugees
How proud would you be to see some of these images from Canada?
And I finally settled on an image. It’s a photo of a mother in a Budapest train station holding her baby boy. Her baby boy is the same age as mine. This woman could be me. She could be any of us.
First of all, donating to organisations that are working to rescue migrants and refugees at sea will respond to the immediate crisis. MSF have a sea rescue programme and won’t overfundraise so if they receive enough for their work in the mediterranean, they will use it for other forgotten crises that don’t get as much attention.
Other organisations working either in the Mediterranean or in the Syrian crisis (which is in Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon) that have Canadian arms (so you get a tax receipt) include Oxfam, CARE, Handicap International, UNICEF, War Child. and the Canadian Red Cross is always a good bet as they are part of the largest network of humanitarian responders in the world. Just pick one and give something.
Better yet, sign up for a regular donation so that their programmes don’t just get a boost when something horrific hits the news. People have been fleeing the war in syria for FOUR years and the cost of providing them with shelter, food, water, and protection continues to grow
And perhaps most importantly, Canadians have a unique opportunity to VOTE in the upcoming federal election. So vote for the candidate and/or party that will increase the numbers of refugees resettled to Canada. If you don’t know, ask the candidates in your riding what their party will do.
And don’t let them tell you that Canada already accepts a lot of refugees in comparison to other countries. We don’t.
In terms of organisations assisting resettled refugees in Canada, it is mostly done locally so I would look into NGO’s locally. A lot of faith based groups are typically involved. In Calgary, I know the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and the Mennonite Central Committee do a lot of resettlement support. The Humanitarian Coalition is based out of Montreal.
I would also warn again giving stuff. Unless something is specifically asked for, cash is always better.