Giving Back: Aleppo
I had drafted a big post on how to give back this holiday season (now more than ever there are so many organizations that need aid) but when I saw this video of the city of Aleppo before and after the war, it really put things into focus for me. This isn't us and them. This could be us. We are so incredibly blessed that this isn't us. And because this isn't us, we have a duty to help. If the roles were reversed, wouldn't we would expect them to do the same. We would expect someone to save us.
I can't and won't pretend to know how to help these people. I am still trying to figure out how things got this bad without anyone intervening. Children are being slaughtered, and there is nothing anyone can do? How is that possible??? I think about when I was in school and would read about some of the atrocities that happened in our history. You hear about them and you wonder, what were people thinking? How could enough people stand by to let something like the Holocaust happen? And then you look at Aleppo. We let this happen. We as a human race let this happen. Worse, we now have the technology and information to actually see that this was happening and still, it happened.
I know that almost everyone seeing these images and hearing of the carnage feels the same way as I do. I feel paralyzed and want to help, but I hardly know where to start. Maybe it's not ironic that we are in the throws of a season that is celebrating a Middle Eastern refugee family, as they were seeking a safe place for their newborn child. To celebrate the fact that they were given shelter, we decide to bestow gifts on the ones we love to celebrate that generosity. We celebrate kindness and love. We sing songs about peace.
Look at us, RIGHT now we have a real chance to celebrate the literal meaning of Christmas. We can give shelter and aid to those fleeing imminent death. We can be generous with our hearts and with our wallets. We can really honor the spirit of Christmas by helping the people who need it the most. Maybe we can actually go down in the history books as the nation that didn't turn a blind eye. Wouldn't that be a real miracle?
Here are a few ways that we can help right now. I know this doesn't even come close to scratching the surface of what the people of Aleppo will ultimately need, but right now money is the best we can do and we need to get it to the people who can help the most.
Here are my action items.
1. The first thing we can do is demand the safe evacuation of people from Aleppo. This takes only seconds to send an email via Amnesty International.
2. Stay Informed. We have to look at these images. We have to feel what is is like for these people. Our hearts have to break. That's how we stay human.
2. Donate. Donate. Donate. This is the season of giving and here is no one who needs help more right now. Here are a few organizations that are trying to make a difference.
The White Helmets- The Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets due to their distinctive hard hats, is a volunteer civil defense non-governmental organization which works to rescue people from the rubble of destroyed buildings. Donations to their “hero fund” are used to pay for medical care for injured White Helmets, to help them get back on their feet, as well as supporting families of volunteers killed in action. This video shows just how critical the work is that these hero's are doing.
The British Red Cross- The Red Cross, along with the Red Crescent, is delivering essential food and medicine to people in desperate need.They are already supporting 1,000 families forced to flee their homes. This includes providing essential food, shelter, water and medical care. Teams are providing medical care and ambulances to transport emergency cases to specialized facilities.
Doctors Without Borders- Very few doctors remain in Aleppo and, despite enjoying a protected status under international law, many hospitals and other medical facilities have been destroyed. Doctors Without Borders supports eight hospitals in the city of Aleppo. It runs six medical facilities across northern Syria and supports more than 150 health centers and hospitals across the country, many of them in besieged areas. DWB is no longer able to get into the city but continues to try to help the facilities it supports.
Preemptive Love Coalition- This non-profit organization help address the basic needs of displaced people, such as medical care, shelter, food and water, and, once these are provided, then goes on to help rebuild lives through empowerment grants for those seeking work opportunities and trying to get their children back into education. Just a few miles outside Aleppo, they are already feeding more than 20,000 people and providing shelter and warmth for those without homes.
Hand In Hand For Syria- This charity takes emergency aid directly to those living under threat and trying to survive in extreme conditions. They provide food, clothing, water and sanitation, as well as medical aid.
Islamic Relief- The charity has been working on the ground in Syria since the beginning of the conflict and has so far helped more than three million people. They have been providing food and medical support to thousands of families, as well as distributing winter survival kits, including warm clothes and boots, as the cold months draw in.
Carry The Future- Carry the Future specializes in hand-delivering child carriers and baby boxes to refugee families, communicating and instructing on proper use to ensure the safety of babies and longevity of baby boxes and carriers. It breaks my heart when I think about the fact that babies are being born, right this minute, in the middle of this conflict.