One month ago I was traveling to Polycastro, Greece a step into the unknown. I left my wonderful husband and two children at home in Mississippi to do something I had never done before. I was going to provide lactation support to Syrian refugees.
That last sentence sounds so simple and straight forward. I am a mother who breastfed her own children. I am a volunteer lactation counselor with La Leche League. I have helped many mothers breastfeed. I knew the two weeks in Greece would be full of new experiences. What I did not know was the intensity with which my heart and spirit would change.
Last year, my dad died unexpectedly and a few weeks later I miscarried a baby girl at 15 weeks gestation. Both came with such a shock, my happy world was changed. As I emerged from those devastating events, I found myself with a feeling that is difficult to describe. I was restless. I didn’t trust what I had previously believed to be true. I wanted more from life. I had discovered emotions deeper than I knew existed. I wanted to put the depth of my heart to good use.
While mindlessly scrolling through facebook, the ad shown above appeared. It was speaking to me. Someone, somewhere needed the skills I had. Someone needed my raw heart. Someone was in a deep unexpected pain and I knew what that felt like.
I didn’t know anything about Syria, Greece, refugees or the entire Middle East. I stopped watching the news years ago. I quickly discovered that Syria was in ongoing, complicated war. After years of fighting and hoping for a resolution, thousands upon thousands of Syrians were leaving. They packed a bag, picked up their kids and walked out their door in search of a safer place. I know if I had to do that, I would want a friendly face on the other end of that journey. I decided to go to Greece to offer an empathetic smile and a hug to the mothers who made that journey.
I am happy that Nurture Project International found me. As an organization, we share the same values. We respect mothers and recognize that through supporting mothers we can make the world a better place for generations to come. We know that breastfeeding not only saves lives though better health, but has the power to build strong mothers. While working in refugee camps, I met with mothers one on one. I offered technical assistance and breastfeeding support. But more often, I showed that I cared. The refugees are in terrible circumstances and the kindness of a Nurture Project International volunteer can give them hope to keep going – to keep hugging their children – to keep waking up – to keep hoping for a bright future. Nurture Project International volunteers save lives.
When I told people about my trip to Greece, they wanted to send things. Baby carriers, diapers, clothes, formula, bottles. There are all kinds of important reasons not to send stuff. More importantly, I can tell you what the refugees in Greece need: They need YOU.
I know you have reasons why you can’t go. I had reasons too. You don’t have money. You have family to take care of. You have school. You have work. You don’t have a passport. You don’t speak Greek or Arabic or Farsi. You are scared to travel overseas. You have people at home that need you. You feely panicky when you think about walking into a refugee camp. You don’t know about refugees. You don’t know about Muslims. You are scared.
Take a breath. Breath in Peace. Breath out fear, pain, anything that is not love and peace. The families in refugee camps escaped a terrible war. They ran away from terrorists. The world is stuck. Tens of thousands of people are looking for a peaceful home and the world was not ready for that. World leaders don’t know what to do. But, you can do something. You can save a life. You can spread love and peace simply by your presence.
I am asking you to go to raise your hand. Be brave. Be part of the change. I will help you.