It’s something we get asked a lot.
The Carrying Aid project was set up as a working group of collection and distribution initiatives from all over the world. These initiatives were started as a direct response to several grass routes aid organisations on the Greek Islands requesting donations of baby carriers. These organisations reported that the Refugees were asking for them. When you take a look at the journeys they have to take you begin to fully understand why they are so needed.
As Rosie Knowles from Sheffield Sling Surgery wrote
“Small children get lost in crowds of massed desperation. Small children are scared of all the chaos around them. Small children need to nurse (breast milk is safer for babies than formula made with dirty water that can make them very ill). Small children need to be carried somehow, especially on long and arduous journeys across a continent where snow is on the way. The arms of their parents provide safety, reassurance, familiarity, comfort, nutrition. But these same arms grow weary as the miles pass by. These same arms need to carry supplies. These same arms need to hold the hands of toddlers who can’t walk far…. A sling will make a real difference where arms are all that is available; car seats are heavy, pushchairs may struggle on rough terrain.”
There is, of course, a big difference between sending a baby carrier and sending a pair of shoes or a warm coat. Any volunteer on the ground can pick up a pair of shoes and know how to use them, and who they will fit. Clothes, shoes, sleeping bags, rucksacks, etc are all self explanatory. Baby carriers on the other hand are less so.
It became fairly quickly apparent that simply collecting carriers and sending them to distribution centres on the ground was just not going to be a viable and safe way to help. Repeated reports of carriers being inappropriately and sometimes dangerously used were coming in from groups along the transit routes, and this has been of great concern. Working with these groups we have developed a system of packaging and classification that volunteers and refugees have found easy to understand, and has facilitate the safe and appropriate distribution of carriers with out an experienced individual present.
It would be marvelous to have trained carrier professionals working in great numbers among the volunteers at every point, but this is impossible to achieve. By the very nature of being familiar with baby carriers, most professionals have young children and family situations that makes volunteering difficult.