I am off to Jordan today, for four days, accompanying WorldVisionUK as they look to mark five years since the conflict in Syria caused the largest migration of people since the second world war. As part of the charity’s #BarefootCoatless campaign we will be visiting refugee camps and also meeting refugees living with host families in the community. More than that I don’t really know if I am brutally honest and won’t know until we land and start our visits tomorrow.
I am hoping I can blog and share stories whilst I am out there but like all these sorts of things I have no idea what our timings and schedule will be, or how reliable the hotel wi-fi, will be. Previous trips have always involved frustration for Annie, Penny and I as we frantically try and share videos and photos whilst being in hotel rooms furthest from the router. Cries of “it is better near my window” as we huddled with our laptops and a stash of Percy Pig sweets are what I remember of our evenings on these trips. Or huddling with others on the stairs of a hotel that promised free wifi but forgot to mention it wasn’t in the rooms or restaurant.
Lots of people have asked me why I am doing this. It is a fair question and one I have asked myself too. Us bloggers are in a privileged position of being asked to share content, be it our own stories, or a collaboration with a brand. What is happening increasingly though is that charities are asking bloggers to share stories of the work they do, or of the people they have helped. Blogs and social media have a huge reach and an ability to be shared much more quickly, which makes it the perfect platform for charities to use. For them to get stories like this out:
Aya is an eight year old girl who had dreams, who should have had a Christmas like the one you had. Aya and her family walked through Macedonia after landing in Greece and then to Serbia. They had to back-track several days journey after borders closed just before their arrival. Though her journey is far from over Aya can’t walk any further because she developed frostbite on her feet. Instead her mother and father have to carry her. During the journey she cried to her Mum “I just want to die Mum, just let me die Mum… just let me die”
Eight, Aya is 8 years old. Unable to walk and telling her parents she just wants to die. How can that be right?
That is my why. That is why I am heading off, away from my own family for four days. Because stories like this need to be shared. The media recently has started painting a different picture of refugees arriving in Europe, following events in Cologne and other cities and all the time journalists and editors are focusing on those stories Aya is telling her mum she just wants to die. Rima is listening to her daughter crying in pain as her shoes and socks are wet and her feet are frostbitten, all because they have had to flee Syria.
Stories like this break my heart and I know there are going to be many more next week but somebody needs to tell these stories and get them out there and I am honoured that World Vision have asked me to help them do that.
We have to do something as the fifth anniversary of this conflict approaches. There will be a fundraising campaign in February and I will tell you more about how you might like to get involved when I get back
World Vision UK’s Syria campaign, BarefootCoatless is asking you to donate so when more of our colleagues’ head to Serbia to assess the work there later this month, they won’t hear more stories like Aya’s. Just £14 could buy a proper winter coat for a Syrian child, and £50 could provide a coat, blanket, and shoes. You can donate now here.
In the meantime if you see anything on social media with #BarefootCoatless I would be really grateful if you would share it with your followers / readers. I would also love you to follow @WorldVisionUK and Rosie from @portraitsskye my fellow blogging buddy for the trip.