One month to Christmas, eek, how did that happen? My kids have been talking about what to write and ask for from Santa for what feels like 11 long months, in true life probably about 3. But what of those children who have nothing and are getting nothing? Those for whom Christmas will be just another day, another day of fear and of suffering, of little hope and even less in the way of festive gifts.
With the conflict in Syria reaching the 5 year point, an estimated 3.7 million Syrian children – that’s 1 in 3 of all Syrian kids – have been born since the war began, their lives shaped by violence, fear and displacement, according to UNICEF reports. In total, UNICEF estimates that some 8.4 million children – more than 80 per cent of Syria’s child population – are now affected by the conflict, either inside the country or as refugees in neighbouring countries.
The enormity of the situation can make us feel like nothing we do can make a difference, but we can. No matter how small, we can give a ray of light, a glimmer of hope, with even just a gesture, a sign to show that we care and that these children of Syria are not forgotten.
That’s the thinking behind the ‘Bags of Love’ appeal that’s been launched by UK Action for Refugees – a grassroots refugee aid organisation, who have a number of projects underway to help the people of Syria (as well as other countries and people affected by conflict).
Bags of Love was really launched at the request of doctors in Aleppo who UK Action for Refugees are supplying with medical aid. They asked them to initiate an appeal to fill bags with things that might help them help the children who come into the hospital deeply traumatised and shocked.
The reality is that the situation in the hospitals in Syria in the aftermath of an airstrike is one of chaos and it’s an incredibly busy and fraught environment. Due to the lack of staff, when children are brought in, there is no provision for a quiet space and rarely anyone with the time to comfort them. Doctors believe The Bags of Love appeal can make a difference, as a cuddly teddy to comfort or toy to distract these children will help the doctors help them.
For a £5 donation, UK Action for Refugees will fill a bag with items like a cuddly toy, pack of felt tips or crayons, an outdoor toy, sweets, a picture drawn by the child that’s helped fill the bag and a note telling those children that we care, we think of them and we are reaching out to them with love. A £5 donation will make a difference, it will hopefully help bring a smile back to the face of a Syrian child.
To support the appeal, which launched at the end of October and runs until the end of February 2017, click here to donate, you can also shop for items to donate via the Bags of Love Amazon wish-list here.
It’s not a drop in the ocean, lots of small acts of kindness can add up to something really meaningful. Please consider donating what you can, it will be greatly appreciated.