Meredith’s Volunteer Journal: Newborns Shouldn’t Sleep on Factory Floors

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Last week I stopped by a tent to say goodbye to a mother. Her newborn child, 3 weeks old, was sleeping on a pile of blankets on the concrete floor of the former factory turned refugee camp. No crib, no stroller, no new baby clothes. Sleeping on a concrete factory floor.

The day before, I greeted a mother, and she had a worried look on her face. She explained that her daughter, almost 8 months pregnant, had slipped and fallen on the wet floors of the portable toilets in the middle of the night. Fortunately the young expecting mother is all right, but why should a woman have to endure 9 months of pregnancy with no access to indoor plumbing?

One mother comes every day to the Baby Hammam and frequently expresses concern that her 10-month old daughter is small for her age because during the child’s early infancy the family had been fleeing Syria. With the help of NPI, her daughter is now at a healthier weight, but she still worries about the long-term effects of her child’s inadequate nutrition in the first months of life.

Another family is very dear to NPI, but they do not receive our services. The parents currently have two delightful daughters who love to help set up the Baby Hammam, but their two infant sons died when a bomb struck their house last year.

Newborns shouldn’t have to sleep on concrete floors. Expecting mothers shouldn’t have to worry about slipping and falling on dirty portable toilet floors. Infants shouldn’t be underweight because their families are fleeing war. Babies shouldn’t die in bomb explosions while the world stands silent.

The reason I know these families is because NPI has had a positive impact on their lives in some way, and they have opened up to us out of trust in who we are and what we do.

Jane Goodall said,  “The greatest danger to our future is apathy,” and the refugee crisis is the pure embodiment of the danger of which she forewarned us. Although we as individuals cannot stop the power holders and terrorist groups causing this turmoil, we can contribute to provide some degree of comfort to these families in distress.

You can help us reach more worried pregnant women, more mothers in need of nutritional support, more resources to ensure comfort for newborns. You can help us make a difference.

Thessaloniki volunteer Elsa kisses a 3-month old infant.
Thessaloniki volunteer Elsa kisses a 3-month old infant.

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