I see the headlines. We all do. The difficult plight of refugee families seeking a better life. It’s almost too much to bear, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like I’m becoming immune to the images I see every day. After all, what can I do about this?
But this summer when my friend Louise told me a tragic story about motherhood, it touched me in a way only a mother would understand.
Louise told me about a pregnant woman who went into labour early in a refugee camp in Greece. She was sent back to the camp with a very premature baby after one day in hospital. Sadly her baby died 10 days later.
As a mother, the idea of taking a fragile baby home to a tent in a refugee camp is a thought that hit me hard. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind.
How did you feel in the days after you became a mother?
All I could think of was those precious few days 11 years ago after I had given birth to my daughter Alice. The first days of motherhood were an emotional whirlwind, filled with fear and love and bonding with my gorgeous new baby girl.
The word I could use to describe that time was ‘comfort’. For me the first few days after birth involved trying to feel comfortable, to soothe the wounds of childbirth, with my hormones going crazy. I remember the need for a warm bath, comfortable clothes, clean sheets and a comfortable bed.
But most of all I needed the comfort of others, from my husband, my mum, my midwife and those close to me who helped me through the first quiet few days of special bonding with my new baby girl.
Giving new mothers the gift of space and time
Our friend Paul Hutchings has recently given up his job to focus his time on the charity he founded ‘Refugee Support’ - a charity that works in partnership with the Greek military providing humanitarian support to two refugee camps in Alexandreia and Filippiada.
The charity is working to provide a few days accommodation away from the camp for new mums and their babies - giving them the space and time we all needed when we became mothers.
To avoid another tragedy happening, Refugee Support has helped four mums since the summer and have another 29 pregnant women in the camp at the moment. They are also working hard to make life a bit easier for the young kids in camp, building classrooms and playgrounds, to bring some much-needed normality into the lives of children who have gone through so much turmoil.
To find out more - http://www.refugeesupport.eu/
What can I do? What can we do?
So how can I help? What can I do? I’m a knitwear designer - not a midwife or a doctor. I’m a big fan of Molly at Selfish Mother - with her brilliant slogan sweatshirts for mums. I asked Molly if she fancied doing a collaboration with me and the Bonnie Mob. The result is a collection of quality knitted sweaters and baby grows, celebrating MOTHER LOVE and helping to raise cash and increase awareness for Refugee Support charity and the amazing and dignified work they do.
By buying this limited edition sweater this Christmas, you are helping. Whether it’s for yourself, for a loved one, for your mum, or for your little one. £20 from each sweater and £10 from each playsuit goes directly to the charity, helping bring a tiny bit of comfort to new mums and kids in need.
If you don’t want to buy a jumper or babygrow, no problem! The fact that you have read this and maybe feel a bit like I did is enough, so head over to https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/refugeesupporteurope and donate a few quid.
Or if you have skills that would be useful in a refugee camp, they are always looking for volunteers, find out more here http://www.refugeesupport.eu/help-us-with-your-time/
I’ll leave the last words to the amazing Paul Hutchings of Refugee Support:
"We rely totally on donations and unpaid volunteers to support people who have lost everything. With your generous support we can give the children and their parents in the camps where we work the help they need to get back on their feet."