Facebook Group - Carriers for Kos
Who are we?
We are baby wearing parents based in Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK and we are collecting baby carriers, slings and baby sleeping bags/gro bags to send to Kos to help the refugee families who have to carry their children long distances. This is in response to requests from people who are out there and was initially in response to a request from the Kos Kindness organisation.
How can I donate a carrier/sling?
Within the group ‘Carriers for Kos’ there is a thread with a red post box. You can post a message there requesting the postal address and one of the admins will PM you with the address. If you are local you can drop them off in person and, in collaboration with EcoRoos and Sling It NW, we are coordinating local pickups (if you have organised a substantial collection yourself) in areas local to Cheshire/Staffordshire.
Sling It NW also has a comprehensive list of UK and international collection points.
Can I donate a framed backpack style carrier?
Due to the bulkiness of these items it would not be cost effective for you to post it to us and us to post it onwards. Therefor we are suggesting that you mail it directly to Kos Kindness:
For those outside the EU, please check on Greek customs charges as they can be quite substantial.
Alternatively you could sell it and use the proceeds to fund our postage appeal (http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/carriers-for-kos-1)
Where can I donate children’s clothes and other items?
We are focusing on carriers/slings and baby sleeping bags as we are committed to fulfilling our initial aim to transport these. When we have an established supply route and extra funding we may be able to collect extra items. Please keep checking the Carriers for Kos group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/878450718889374/) for further notices.
We know of the following collections that are going to Kos:
Collection in person near Gatwick - https://www.facebook.com/events/825376727583185/
Babi Pur (Wales) - https://www.facebook.com/babipur
EcoRoos (UK) - https://www.facebook.com/EcoRoos
Where can I donate money for transportation and printing costs for instructions?
Please see our crowdfunder page. We really appreciate your support.
Will people have instructions on how to use slings safely?
Yes. We are working on pictorial instructions with translations. TICKS guidelines are also being worked on. Some baby wearing consultants are going out to assist.
What about other countries and Greek Islands?
We are liaising with other UK and International groups and will respond to send items to the areas that request them if we discover that Kos has adequate supplies.
Do you know the Amazon wishlist details for Kos Kindness?
KOS refugee appeal
8 Griffin Enterprise Park
This is not accurate. The situation is of such a scale that there are still many out there who would benefit from baby equipment, and what people overlook is that while direct cash donations can provide a wide variety of support, it is easy to forget that there are children who are scared and suffering and would benefit greatly from the warmth, security and safety of being in a carrier worn by close family.
We as a group has written an open letter to a naysayer, hoping to convince those out there who have any doubts about the good this effort is achieving.
An open letter to Leah McLaren,
I’m writing in response to your article titled ‘Your used stuff isn't helping refugees.If you want to help, give money’.
It contained a number of factual inaccuracies and I’m sure you’ll be keen to have them cleared up so that your readership is fully informed on this issue. I am writing as a member of the Carriers for Kos group based in the UK, one of the grassroots movements that you mention (though not by name) in your article.Contrary to your assumptions we are actually highly organisedon both a national and international level liaising with other organisations on the front line in the countries where refugees are at most need. We may have started off ‘ad hoc’ but the Internet is a brilliant resource for coordinating the efforts required to respond to a humanitarian crisis and in a short space of time we have collected a large amount of intelligence which means that we can respond to the ever-changing conditions (such as border closures, warehousing situations and need in different locations) rapidly.I will be running this letter by some of those people and maybe they will add their name and organisation to this letter.I’m sure they would all have been more than happy to answer some of your questions to enable you to write a balanced, informative article.
You ask a number of questions in your article. I hope we can provide you with some of the answers. You wrote:
“Why is this happening? Is it even helping anyone? Who the heck knows?!”
Most of the collections rose from an appeal that was put out by Kos Kindness (a local organisation based on the Island of Kos, Greece).They asked for baby carriers to be sent to them because they are dealing with families who are struggling to carry their children and what little belongings they do have.As parents we are moved by this request.We know first hand how hard it is to carry a child for any considerable distance.We know that using a carrier will help.We know that if we were fleeing our homes and our countries we would appreciate such help.Yes, the ‘other pressing issues, such as food, water, shelter, medical care and emotional support’ that you speak of are important but it’s not the either/or situation that you describe.People can give money and people can donate their baby carriers or other useful items.To clarify, babycarriers are a practical item that has been requested by people working with refugees.Other organisations such as Order of Malta and the Salvation Army have become involved with the distribution of carriers and we have received feedback to let us know that the carriers are well received and are being used to enable families to travel more effectively and avoid being separated.
By liaising directly with such organisations we are now able to stagger supplies to avoid the logistical problems you describe.So, to answer your second question, “Is it even helping anyone?” It would appear that it is.
There are a few additional points that I would seek to clarify, namely, your assumption that the collection organisations are some misguided philanthropic mission by middle class, western parents and also that the only way to make a donation to support refugees is by sending money to a registered charity.To address point one I would like to offer you my perspective from within one of the collection organisations.Within our organisation I deal with collection arrangements.I have spoken with parents who can’t afford to post their carriers or ask if they can delay posting until after pay day.For them it’s not as easy as you would suggest to ‘just give money’.They are giving what they can out of humanitarian concern.Some people are giving their much loved carriers that have carried their child or children.They are doing this, we are all doing this, in the hope that we can make a difference.We are well aware of the need to use resources as beneficially as possible.Already we are thinking ahead to try to anticipate the changing needs of refugees and those supporting them on the ground particularly as winter is fast approaching in many of these areas.One of our consultants, Rosie Knowles, also makes the point that, “Most of the nomadic peoples of the world use slings to facilitate transport over long distances.Babywearing isn't a new fangled western hobby but a rediscovery of normal human practices that provides vital contact and comfort to children. Refugee children are especially vulnerable and will need the arms of their parents more than ever for reassurance”. If you would like to read more please see her article titled ‘Sending aid and slings to refugees’ which can be found here: http://www.sheffieldslingsurgery.co.uk/slings-for-...
To address the issue about giving only to registered charities I would like to quote a colleague, Carissa Lough who said, “The fact is, that some of the areas overwhelmed with numbers of refugees arriving don't have ‘official’ aid agencies helping. Some of the people actually physically handing goods out to the refugees have said that baby carriers are really useful, and yes please they would like to be able to give them out. Before Hungary closed its borders, I emailed a group in Hungary, helping near the Serbian border to say "I have a box of about 40 baby carriers, would those be helpful for you to have?" They said "Yes please, we have families arriving daily and a carrier would help them with their journey".
By all means use your position of influence as a journalist to educate people about the need to donate to organisations but please do it in an accurate way.If you would like to be kept up to date about the international operations regarding baby carriers then please do let me know and I will seek to put you in touch with people who can give you an accurate update of this fast-changing aid effort.
Jenny Neill & Rebekah Wershbale– Carriers for Koswww.carriersforkos.co.uk
Jenifer Ramirez – US collections – Old Fashioned Girl Modern Mama
Sam Barry – Slings for Solidarity Ireland
Rachael Durkin & Jen Bannerman – Slings for Kos
Paula Hallsworth - EcoRoos
Rosie Knowles – Sheffield Sling Surgery
Carissa Lough – Koala Slings
Kirstin Hunter & Marika Partridge – Aussie Babywearers for Refugees
Josephine Holt – Babywearing consultant