Images of Syrian refugees clutching their babies on the trek to asylum struck a chord in the hearts of some Minnesota women who met Wednesday to help a nonprofit group lighten the migrants’ load.
The group of five women met for the first time at the Penn Lake Library in Bloomington to pack and ship baby carriers to Carry the Future, a California nonprofit that aids refugees.
The organization, started by a mother who shipped baby carriers to refugees in Greece, blossomed into a global network of volunteers who travel to Greece to deliver and outfit refugees with baby carriers.
The Minnesota moms connected over a Facebook page and came together Wednesday to pack the carriers.
Each year on Dec. 16, Becky Daum, 33, honors her two sons who died at birth six years ago by performing random acts of kindness. On Wednesday, Daum assembled packages of baby carriers and asked her family members and friends to donate them.
“It’s really touching to think one of these carriers in Bloomington, Minnesota, can end up directly benefiting someone,” she said. “It’s literally easing their burden.”
The group raised $300 and collected about 80 carriers, along with socks, mittens, toys and notes to be tucked into them, said event organizer Ariel Butler.
Kayla Daigle, 28, collected notes from local moms and drawings from their children to slip into the carriers. She had the notes translated into Arabic for the refugee families.
Scrawled in English and Arabic, the notes read “Peace on Earth” and “We wish you a safe journey.”
She said the carriers are one small way to help lift the weight off the shoulders of refugee families already burdened by so much. “This is a small piece of the puzzle,” she said. “It’s one piece that the caregiver doesn’t have to worry about.”
Daigle said one pregnant mother who had purchased two baby carriers for herself donated them as soon as she found out about the drive.
While packaging the carriers, the women opened up about how the pictures of refugees shook them — especially the image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, lying dead on a Turkish beach after drowning as his family tried to reach the Greek island of Kos.
Josie Meyer, 35, said a picture of a father carrying his child in a box jolted her into taking action. Meyer said that as a mother she could not imagine what the parents fleeing Syria are experiencing.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said.
But the grass-roots effort to provide baby carriers restores her faith in humanity, she said: “We have so much to give.”