For most of us, it’s hard to imagine quickly leaving everything and everyone we know and love behind just for the basic human rights of safety and well-being. That’s the first challenge of many in the life of a refugee. I recently read one touching refugee story that really stuck with me about a 26-year-old girl who made the expensive endeavor to flee war-torn Syria for Greece by herself, while her husband, kids and family chose the less expensive path to Lebanon. Today, I urge you to remember her story and that of the millions of other refugees worldwide fighting for their lives. If you have the ability, please help by volunteering or donating to refugee-focused causes. And show some gratitude for the wonderful people in your own life.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 7,909
The United States has provided sanctuary for many refugees of late. According to reporting from PBS, the U.S. accepted nearly 85,000 refugees in fiscal year 2016, with the state of California taking in the most refugees, at 7,909. That year, the most refugees entering the U.S. came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria. And according to PolitiFact, three-fourths of Syrian refugees who enter the U.S. are women and children, one-third of those being children younger than 12.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Miry Whitehill, Founder of Miry's List
With thousands of families seeking safe passage and accommodations, it can be overwhelming to know where to even begin helping. Enter today’s bighearted Woman to Watch, Miry Whitehill, founder of the nonprofit Miry’s List.
Certainly, learning the ways of a new country and a new language are mountains enough to climb, but refugees new to the U.S. often require basic necessities. Miry’s List helps with that, providing refugees with everything from diapers and toiletries to beds and cleaning supplies so they can begin to feel at home again in their adopted country. And since families have different needs, a dedicated Miry’s List volunteer works with each refugee family to figure out those needs and creates a specific list to address them. It’s all in an effort to help refugee families transition from survival mode to getting settled in their new homes to eventually thriving as productive members of society.
If you’re an I-want-to-help-but-am-too-busy kind of gal, I feel you. That’s what’s awesome about Miry’s List: You can simply purchase items from the Amazon wish list the organization creates for each family it helps. Trust me, doing so will fill your heart and give you a sense of connection with a family truly in need. An average of 18 families are enrolled in Miry’s List every week, so it’s clear the need is extensive.
Obviously, Miry, a California mom, is a deeply compassionate person. And after meeting a Syrian refugee family and discovering they had much in common, she felt compelled to help them find access to child care and basic household supplies. So, she put her digital-marketing background to work and took to crowdsourcing. Within just two weeks, she was able to raise enough funds to get the family everything they needed to turn their new house into a home, and Miry’s List was born.
Since its inception in summer 2016, the organization has helped more than 1,400 refugees settling in the U.S.; involved more than 100 volunteer list makers; set up its New Arrival Supper Club, which meets every month; and coordinated more than 500 playdates, birthday parties, English lessons, family dinners, shopping trips, school visits and doctor visits between new-arrival families and their new neighbors.
Miry is living proof that all it takes is one generous and devoted person to ignite a journey of giving.
QUITE THE QUOTE
As wise woman Maya Angelou said:
“Just do right. Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.
To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.