Hello! I am sorry to have been out of touch. My family has been on a whirlwind two months – traveling from Italy to England, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and now Turkey! Here is an article I wrote as the travel contributor for the website Dandelion Moms that will explain why we are in Turkey.
My travel article this time will focus on a special type of travel that has changed my family in the most profound way and has been the most rewarding travel experience we have ever had – volunteering where it is desperately needed. As you probably know, my family travels full-time and are always wanting to experience new places and adventures. Our original travel plans for September had included extensive travel throughout Romania and Portugal – two countries we had yet to explore as a family. However, when we heard the news about the terrible refugee crisis in Turkey, we changed our plans and headed straight to Bodrum, Turkey to help wherever we could.
Turkey is a very special place for us. We have visited this incredible country 7 times and have many wonderful friends who we consider “family.” The hospitality and kindness of the Turkish people is almost beyond words, yet seeing the way they have opened up their country and their hearts to the Syrian refugees makes us love them even more.
Turkey has an estimated 1.7 million Syrian refugees who are escaping the atrocities in Syria where war has entered its fifth year. Syria has over 4 million reported refugees and 7.6 million internally displaced. The war in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 350,000 civilians.
There are thousands of innocent children caught in the middle of this horrendous situation who need supplies of all kinds as well as love and compassion that can comfort these frightened children who have lost their homes and all the comforts that childhood should bring. Hundreds of the families here in Bodrum have lost everything and are now living on the streets or in parks with their babies and young children.
We are working with a local English/Turkish charity – Care Packages for Syrian Refugees – which serves hot food daily and distributes supplies. With the money we have raised on our family’s Go Fund Me page, we have been able to buy many supplies – shoes, clothes, underwear, diapers, wipes, baby food, water, toys, backpacks, and much more. However, we still have 2 more weeks here to help these families on-site, so any extra support would be greatly appreciated!
Our work here is more important than I ever thought it would be. The refugees (and even the local Turkish people) have told us that they had lost their faith in humanity – the wars, the trauma, and now the way the refugees are being treated in some parts of Europe. But seeing my family here, my children’s faces full of love and compassion, and us not just handing them food or money, but sitting with them, playing with their children, and treating them like friends and equals, has given them hope for the future and hearts full of love again. And it has been an eye-opening and heartwarming experience for us to meet such loving and kind people, who we now call friends, amid such tragic circumstances.
The most amazing part about this whole situation is how much these beautiful families have actually helped us and taught us more in 2 weeks than in our past 2 years of travel. They have taught us that love and friendship are free and have no boundaries. That people who have nothing left in the world except what they can carry are willing to share what little they are given with us. That we should be grateful for everything in our lives, especially our families, because they could all be taken away in a flash. And that we are all the same – no matter our country, religion, language, or the color of our skin – we are all people who love our families and want the best for our children and their futures.
There is so much more that I would love to share with you. To learn more about what we are doing in Turkey, the stories of the families we have met, and how you can help, check out our fundraising page here.
Have you ever volunteered for a cause that changed you forever? Please share with us!