About two years ago, as pictures of the devastation caused by the Syrian Civil War were broadcast across the world, Illinois resident Michelle Taylor couldn’t bare to look at the ones of children suffering.
“At the time my son was 2, and every child I saw had his face,” Taylor told The Epoch Times.
She began searching for ways to help and got involved in advocacy work. In early 2017, shortly after the fall of Aleppo, she began hearing reports and seeing photos of the conditions that the displaced civilians fleeing the city faced.
Pregnant at the time with her second child, she couldn’t stop thinking about the Syrian mothers and their children.
“I couldn’t imagine being in their shoes,” 34-year-old Taylor said.
Through social media Taylor connected with three other mothers living in the U.S. who felt the same way, and were also involved in advocacy work for Syrian families and civilians.
Last summer, Taylor, together with Nabila Ali, Priti Bansal, and Wendy Widom, undertook an ambitious campaign to raise money to send “baby boxes” to displaced mothers and their young children in Syria.
They called their campaign “Parcel of Love.”
Making a Real Difference
The women were able to raise $124,000 primarily through social media to purchase and deliver 1,500 boxes of supplies to refugee camps in Syria. The boxes contain blankets, clothing, bathing and healthcare items, a bassinet, and baby formula for those who needed it.
In order to deliver the baby boxes into Syria, the women partnered with the Heroic Hearts Organization based out of Illinois. Heroic Hearts has ground teams in Syria that can deliver the baby boxes to maternity hospitals and refugee camps.
“It’s really overwhelming to see the connections that are made, and the way people really come together for a project like this,” Taylor said.
After the campaign last year, the women found out from the doctors on the ground in Syria how else they could help now.
The doctors told them to send more baby boxes. Not just because they helped these babies survive, but also because of the psychological impact they have on these displaced families.
The campaign showed the Syrian mothers that there were mothers just like them on the other side of the world who cared, and were determined to help.
“They know that they’re not forgotten. They know that there’s people out there that are thinking about them, and are constantly striving to help them,” 41-year-old Ali told The Epoch Times.
It was encouraging to hear their efforts had had an impact.
Continuing the Mission
The group has also partnered with another organization called Save the Syrian Children to find out which areas are most in need, and to source supplies.
This year their goal is to raise enough funds to source and ship 2,000 baby boxes. After last year’s effort, the mothers are familiar with how it feels to accomplish their mission.
“You just feel like you just empowered somebody. You just helped someone, and somebody who are not able to raise their voice, basically you just became their voice for once,” Bansal told The Epoch Times.
“We just hope we can help more, because what we did was just like a drop in the ocean.”
The biggest challenge this year is not one of logistics, but of raising awareness of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
“Syria has once again fallen from the everyday conversation,” Taylor said. “Getting people to still care … that’s our biggest challenge now.”
But with all of the women feeling so passionately about their work, they’re not going to give up easily.
“These children are all of our children. I can’t see these kids and think they’re someone else’s kids,” Taylor said welling up with emotion. “Becoming a mother, it’s like a sisterhood. … There’s no way that I could not try and help them.”
To donate to the campaign visit https://campaign.hchearts.org/parceloflove
If you have an uplifting story you’d like to share, write to Andrew Thomas at [email protected]