We are excited to introduce you to Marie Beechy, our newest Mama of the Month, and founder of One Refugee Child. She is a registered nurse, a professor, and a mother of two boys. The story about how One Refugee Child began is a perfect example of how a little bit of good can go a long way.
In 2015, Marie had been watching news coverage of the refugee crisis and wanted to do something to help. One day, she came across a Facebook post by a woman from Greece named Anca, urging others to provide assistance to refugees arriving on the island and traveling past her house each day. Marie asked how she could help. Anca’s answer was simple: strollers.
Refugee families could use strollers to transport their children and belongings and provide a safe place for children to sleep while they traveled. Marie sent strollers to Anca, and Anca handed them out. Anca posted pictures to Facebook for Marie to see. Soon, others saw the pictures and wanted to help as well. The newly formed team had an initial goal of giving 10 strollers. Within a month, they had handed out 23. Two months later, the total was 57.
Five months later, Marie traveled to Greece with her niece to take part in the project she had helped organize. In the months leading up to the trip, Marie and other volunteers raised funds to purchase strollers and to fill suitcases with supplies for refugees arriving in Lesvos, Greece. After a long journey, they arrived at the port to begin handing out the much-needed strollers, blankets, warm clothing, and toys. The supplies did not last long. With only two strollers remaining, Marie noticed a mom with a distraught child.
“I went over to talk to her and the little girl just couldn’t stop crying. The mother spoke very little English but told us that the little girl was crying because she was unable to sleep. As a mom, I know that a nap is very important to keep an infant or toddler in a good mood. I also know that the circumstances have to be right for that nap to happen. In my observations, most of these children were sleeping on the concrete on top of a thin blanket or in their parent’s arms. The noisy atmosphere and bright sun were not conducive to napping. The value of the strollers is that the child suddenly has a darker and somewhat quieter place to rest, and the movement can help facilitate that as well. This family was especially grateful to receive the stroller, and we left a small snuggly toy with the little one as well.”
Marie’s trip to Greece brought to her a new awareness about the refugee crisis, “I was reminded of the harsh reality that every day, people are dying in their quest to reach a safer existence. It left me with a great empathy for the mothers trying to keep their children warm and safe and fed and alive. Most of all, it showed me that there is a great need for compassion and action to help the Syrian and Iraqi refugees--for me to continue to look for ways to make their journey a little easier and show them that there is still good in the world.”
Soon after Marie’s return home, four others moms joined forces to create the non-profit, One Refugee Child, with a goal of improving the day-to day lives of refugee children through projects that focus on health, development, and education.
Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, 12 million people, roughly half of the country’s population, have fled to neighboring countries and Europe or resettled in internally displaced person camps within Syria. Over half of Syrian refugees are children. While there have been advances in the opportunities for refugees in Turkey, many challenges remain to integrating refugee children into mainstream Turkish schools, including language, war trauma, and cultural differences. As a result, several schools have been opened with a primary focus on Syrian refugee children.
This fall, we are partnering with One Refugee Child to provide much needed books to stock the libraries in these schools. Somebody’s Mama aims to raise $10,500 to provide enough books for 15 schools, providing learning opportunities for 4,500 children.
“Education is the hope for the future for these children,” Marie says. “We want to see these children have a bright and promising future, and we believe education is a way to see that happen."
Marie added, “I think that the choices [Syrian refugees] made were no different than the ones that any mom would make in those circumstances. We all want what is best for our children and will do what it takes to make that happen. I am grateful to be able to do what I can to help another mom in a difficult situation because I would like to think that if it was me one day, another person would do the same.“
We at Somebody’s Mama would like to thank Marie and the team at One Refugee Child for the amazing work that they do!
Want to get involved?
$5 buys one book
$15 buys one book in each language: Arabic, Turkish, and English
$235 buys 50 books in one language
$700 buys 150 books to fill the shelves in one library