Athens, Greece—The capital of Greece, its skyline punctuated with 5th-century BC landmarks. Below the hilltop of the The Acropolis, Carry the Future Team 8 arrived in Athens, desperate to do anything to provide relief and a more accurate snapshot of the humanitarian crisis that was not slowing down. It was April, 2016, and just one month earlier, Balkan countries closed their borders. Hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers once used this route to countries such as Germany. As a deal with Turkey loomed, a steady flow of refugees continued to arrive in Greece with nowhere else to go. One evening, over dinner with a volunteer from another NGO providing midwifery services to refugees, the conversation turned to the babies. What would happen to them? The refugee camps were relatively new, crowded and often comprised of UNHCR tents. It was not an ideal space to bring a new baby home to. It was during this pivotal dinner, that the suggestion of Finnish style baby beds was suggested and an initiative was born.
Carry the Future developed its Baby Bed Program, lead by Jill Thomas, and by summertime, 2016, camps were receiving baby beds for expecting mothers or mothers with newborn infants. Distribution teams were hand-delivering baby beds to camp leaders and in special instances, directly to new mothers themselves. It is a powerful example of Carry the Future’s direct impact. Photos and stories emerged of Teams’ vans filled to the ceiling with stacked Moses baskets, of them shopping for the aid, and of them delivering the beds to families. Team Athens, lead by Rita Continakis could be seen hand delivering Moses baskets to mothers in and around Athens. Just as Team 8 had hoped, #somuchgood was spreading.
Initially, the first style of bed used was a Finnish style baby bed—a brightly patterned cardboard box with soft mattress inside that included a clean bed sheet. Volunteers equipped each baby box with newborn pajamas, additional outfits, a hat, mosquito net, blankets, and a baby carrier. In time, the program identified a manufacturer of Moses baskets in the UK which ensured timely, regular deliveries of baskets to critical delivery spots throughout Greece. These beautifully woven baskets with handles also came with a mattress pad, sheet, clothing and newborn tools for baby and baby carrier. Hygiene products for mothers to use such as baby shampoo, a pack of diapers, sanitary napkins and baby wipes were purchased in Greece and added to each baby bed. Stocking the beds has become a way to support local, Greek economy.
Welcome Baby is Carry the Future’s largest program. If you would like to help sustain this program by providing hope through aid, please consider a monthly donation to Carry the Future. Setting up a monthly donation is easy and a great way to help refugee families!
Can’t donate? Click here to find out how you #candosomething to help refugees!