This year I volunteered to help sort and pack refugee donations for shipment at the AFYA Foundation. After hearing UNICEF photographer Ashley Gilbertson speak to the Upper School during Peace Week at Friends, I felt inspired to do whatever I could to help the Syrian Refugee Crisis. In his speech, Ashley Gilbertson talked about the hardships experienced by Syrian refugees as they flee from violence in their homes and try to find safe places to live in Europe. I learned that not only is traveling physically arduous (families must walk for miles at night), but many of the camps that refugees stop at on the way do not have medical amenities, or simply not enough to help the millions of people who pour in from Syria. The AFYA workers who welcomed us at the Foundation told us that many people think the way to help the Syrian Refugee Crisis is to go to Greece and physically receive families off the boats; however, one way to truly make a difference for the Syrian people is to fulfill the desperate need for medical resources.
Along with a group of Friend Seminary students, I sorted and packaged medical tools and appliances that had been donated by hospitals around New York. We recorded expiration dates and gathered groups of items together to ship off to organizations in Europe aiding the refugees. Although it was menial work, it felt extremely important because I knew that all of the items we were packaging would go to making a refugee family’s journey safer and easier.