Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hygiene kits for Syrian refugees

(How have I not posted about this? Oh yeah, I was waiting for Jeremy to send me the pictures he took. I still am waiting, in fact. No worries: in the meantime, I am ripping one off a fb friend's wall.)

A few weeks ago, the charitable works branch of our church got together with UNHCR to provide help to Syrian refugees. In this particular case, this help took the form of hygiene kits that will be distributed to the refugees. The work took place on a Saturday morning. Jeremy was able to go; I wasn't. The venue was a huge UNHCR warehouse in Jebel Ali (Dubai).

Those are some church friends in the foreground. Jeremy is doing some heavy lifting in the background. As Jeremy explained it to me, there were boxes full of one individual item - toothbrushes, say, or shampoo. The volunteers' job that day was to take one item from each box and put it in another box that would eventually form a completed hygiene kit as it made its way down the line. Then, they stacked the boxes in palettes to be ready for shipping.

I think I heard there were about 140 volunteers there. Some were from our congregation. Others were from different Mormon congregations in the UAE. Others still probably weren't Mormon at all (the UNHCR employees, for example). About 5000 hygiene kits were assembled, and they were labeled only as coming from "LDS Charities." It's possible that a Syrian would know that acronym (really - remember that time a random guy in the Damascus Old City saw Jeremy wearing a BYU shirt and called out, "JOSEPH SMITH!!!"??), but not at all likely. The point is not to raise visibility of the church in Syrian refugee camps. The point is to provide them with hygiene kits.

I'm glad Jeremy could contribute to this project, even if I couldn't. I've helped put together hygiene kits before, mostly as a kid for church service projects, mostly intended for unfamiliar, far-flung regions of conflict, but this is the first time said service has had a personal connection.


ridgewayaway said...

Awesome! Our church did this last month only the kits were sent to AIDS caregivers in Ethiopia. I brought Greta (4 yrs old) along and she loved loved loved putting the items into each kit. Every time we go to church now, she asks if we get to build kits and is a bit disappointed about regular sunday school. - Jenn

Bridget said...

I wish the kids could have gone. They didn't allow children under 12, though, probably because it was at a UNHCR warehouse and not a cultural hall. I hope they get a chance in the future to do projects like this.

Liz Johnson said...

I really, really, really hope that these get put to good use. I assume nothing in Syria has changed, eh? I'm annoyed that it's not more on my news channel radar.

Bridget said...

The only things that have changed are that the death toll has gone up (100K total, by some counts) and the regime forces seem to have the upper hand these days.


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