1. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

Article Content

In 2015, a young mother with a 2-year-old son was deeply touched watching the media documenting the death of a 3-year-old boy who drowned as a Syrian family was attempting to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos. She was angry on behalf of the little boy whose awful death was being shown on screens all over the world. This small island was her husband's homeland, and she felt compelled to ask family and friends to donate baby carriers to be provided to refugee mothers of infants and toddlers.


She and another volunteer flew to Kos, fitting each woman with a wearable carrier that was adjusted to the size of her child. At first, the women and their families were dubious. The first family she approached refused the carrier. She approached another family having a father speaking excellent English and offered them a carrier. "I'll never forget his face," she said, "He just said, 'really, it's for us? Why?' I said, 'it's from America.' A mother donated it to you so your wife and your child can be comfortable and his face kind of froze with this mixture of gratitude that you just can't explain, mixed with grief-that's when I knew I was onto something" ( She went on to distribute all 500 carriers she had brought with her. The refugee women soon realized this was much easier than trying to hold their baby without a carrier. The founder returned to Greece a few months later with 10 volunteers armed with 2,500 baby carriers to distribute. This was the beginning of the nonprofit organization "Carry the Future" that now has volunteer chapters across the United States and in 20 countries. There are currently over 6,000 volunteers and the organization is 1,005-volunteer run. Over 30,000 carriers have been distributed to refugee camps throughout Greece, with the number continuing to grow.


Extending their outreach first to Jordan and Lebanon, Carry the Future now also personally delivers baby boxes that contain mosquito nets, maternal hygiene items, and infant supplies such as diapers, blankets, onesies, footed sleepers, hats, small toys, baby wash, and washcloths. These are called "bundles of joy" and include a personal note to the refugee mother receiving the bundle. In March 2016, the 5,000th baby was born in a single refugee camp in northern Jordan. Many of these newborns were born to first-time mothers who had few supplies for their child. Such baby boxes are so valuable for these new families.


This model of personal delivery by volunteers traveling to refugee camps used by Carry the Future allows the organization to avoid common problems plaguing many nonprofit organizations such as delayed shipments, customs delays, and unsafe use of the carriers and baby beds that are distributed to the refugee mothers. Carriers and baby beds filled with maternal/infant survival items (the bundle of joy) are distributed in refugee camps in France, Serbia, Afghanistan, and in an ever-growing number of countries.


Carry the Future is a "Me2You" grassroots movement that operates without major overhead or marketing costs, so it is effective and efficient. This initiative is an example of volunteers making a difference on a microlevel as they interact personally with refugees to improve the quality of their lives and those of their children. Carry the Future collaborates with other nonprofit organizations such as Salaam Culture Museum (SCM) Medical Missions. Women and children's programs of SCM Medical Missions include women's empowerment through skills training, education for women and children, maternity housing, the baby box program, and the Malki Children's Center for children who have been traumatized by exposure to war and violence. Carry the Future also collaborates with the International Rescue Committee with an 83-year history of responding to global humanitarian crises. Innovative global efforts provide hope for childbearing and childrearing refugee families.


According to the organization's Web site, there are many ways to contribute such as fundraising, holding a diaper drive, creating bundles of joy, participating in an international distribution trip (at one's personal expense), and sharing with others what the organization is about. The organization needs the assistance of those with professional skills such as maternity and pediatric nurses. The joy of helping other mothers, babies, and children can extend beyond the usual methods of clinical care and support.