real life

What a refugee mum packs when she decides to flee.


We have watched the throngs of people – a mass of humanity – surging West, desperate to board trains that will take them to a better life. We have seen the faces etched with anguish and exhaustion, carrying children on an endless walk. What would that be like, we think, from the comfort of our couches. How must they feel, we wonder, as we tuck our children safely into bed. And our hearts hurt.

It is easy for these people – each of them mothers, fathers, sons, or daughters – to blur into one big number and one big problem. But there’s something about this image by the International Rescue Committee that struck us.

The image personalise this enormous refugee crisis by focusing on a single individual. A single, relatable individual, who was asked to open their bag and show us the remainder of their earthly possessions.

This is what one refugee mum packed.

These are the things they chose to pack when they decided to flee. Suddenly, you find yourself considering what you might take if you were in the same position. And the enormity of their loss begins to hit home.

The image above illustrates the contents of a mother's bag. You see no clothes for her, no make up, no mementoes. Everything she took, was for her 10 month old child. A sunhat, medication, a single jar of food and purified water. Vaccination records, socks, sunscreen lotion.

Isn’t that so like a mother, that during the most perilous time of your life, you pack sunscreen and a sunhat for your child? Isn’t that like a mother to bring the vaccination records? Isn’t that something you would do, too?

There was something about this image that struck us. We hope it does the same for you.

This post originally appeared on Mums On Top.