It could have been us
No mother could have remained unmoved by the images that rocked first social and then traditional media last week. [I mean no hurt by saying 'mothers'. I know that men, women and children, no matter your parental status, are equally moved at these pictures. But for me, it hit me as a mother.]
After the first ricochet of despair and gut-punching grief, there was a galvanising across the Twitter and Blogging community with ideas of what could be done to help.
When posting these things there is always a fear of recrimination and rebuttal.
Because with every suggested action there is always a But.
- Donate money to this charity appeal – 'But charities take so much in admin and salaries'
- Take donations to this drop off centre – 'But this is just going to create more roadlocks in France'
- Share this heart-wrenching image – 'But that is taking advantage of the pain of other people's children'
- Take part in this linky, and write a blog post about how you feel – 'But that is jumping on the bandwagon'
Something is better than nothing
The thing is, there may be validity in all these counter statements. But I believe something is always better than nothing.
I'm not a humanitarian aid expert, or well versed in political rhetoric. I'm not even a brave user of social media. I don't court controversy and I'm often scared of saying the wrong thing.
But fear of saying the wrong thing is nothing compared to the fear of crossing war zones with children and scant belongings in hand.
If you can't feed 100…
At times like these I'm reminded of the quote by Marianne Williamson, often attributed to Nelson Mandela and disappointingly it's a wrong attribution.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us
I also like this quote from Mother Theresa, which can really sum up grassroots action: “If you can't feed 100 people, then feed just one.“
Small practical actions we can take
Here is my list of what local folk can do to help the current refugee crisis. It's not exhaustive. They may not even be the best thing to do. But they're something. If you think I've missed something please let me know.
1. If you have a spare fiver and a phone: Text the word Syria to 70008. It goes to Save the Children's Syria Appeal. I like this one because it's quick and easy to do and costs the price of three coffees.
2. If you have some time and transport: You can buy goods and take them to a Chiswick drop off point, where they will be distributed to people in the refugee camps in Calais, in a structured way. Please note that they're requesting men's goods only.
The drop off point is:
Hogarth Health Club, Airedale Avenue, W4 2NW
Items needed – remember it's just men's goods:
- Shoes and trainers
- Hoodies and Waterproof Jackets (no wool)
- Trousers, Jeans
- Shirts and T-shirts
- Hats, Gloves & Scarves
- Sleeping bags
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- tinned food
3. If you blog you could join in with this linky, run by Mummytries.com
4. If you use social media, you could join in with this campaign run by What Katie Said and some of her blogger friends http://www.whatkatysaid.com/2015/09/savesyriaschildren/
5. If you knit or crochet and want to show some crafty love, you can knit a hat for a man in a refugee camp in Calais. There's a big knit-in in London on 29 September in Lower Marsh Street near Waterloo. Or you can post your hat by 4 October, and it will be taken to Calais for you. See https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/knit-for-calais-tickets-18450949286
6. If you love to read then you can donate books for the Jungle Library. This library has been set up by teacher Mary Jones, at the refugee camp in Calais.
A bookshop in Wood Green is accepting book or cash donations for the Jungle Library http://woodgreenbookshop.blogspot.co.uk/
7. If you love music, you can donate musical instruments to fellow musicians in the refugee camp in Calais https://www.facebook.com/musicagainstborders
8. If you love shopping, buy a kid's rucksack and fill it with toys, pyjamas, a set of clothes and some craft materials. Send directly to Greece: Address Melinda McCostie, The Captain's Table, Molyvos, 81108, Lesbos, Greece.
Or send your donations to the crowdfunding page at: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/bethany-ogle-2