Atelier/Child founder Jessica Baird Walsh and The Grace Tales founder Georgie Abay have launched a collection of MAMA & MINI sweaters for mother and child, with 10% from the sale of each sweater being donated to Unicef to support their work helping children in Syria. The crew neck navy cotton cashmere blend sweaters feature the words MAMA & MINI and are a celebration of mothers and their children around the world and a reminder that every single mother and child deserves a chance. Here, Baird Walsh talks about her background in human rights and why it’s so important to raise awareness about the biggest mass migration and humanitarian crisis since World War Two...
In March 2011, when pro-democracy protests first broke out in southern Syria, I was seven months pregnant with my first child. My job at the time – working in Amnesty International’s public affairs unit – required me to be up to date on current affairs and human rights issues. I spent every day reading reports, writing papers, speaking with researchers, and providing information to journalists. As I prepared to go on maternity leave, the reports started to come in about clashes and fighting in Syria. At the time I didn’t think too much of it – it was another faraway crisis. My eldest daughter, Winter, was born in May 2011, around time the conflict really started to escalate. She is now six, meaning that for the entire time I have been a mother, and she has been alive, Syria has been at war.
In the time my daughter has been alive she has made friends, gone to school, to playdates, on holidays and to Disneyland. She has learned to read, swim and dance. She has become a proud big sister – twice – and most importantly, she has been loved, eaten well, slept peacefully and has experienced the world free of fear. And as her mama, so have I.
According to UN estimates, by June 2013, when I was preparing to welcome my second baby, over 90,000 people had been killed in Syria’s civil conflict. By September 2015, when I gave birth to my third child, that number had risen to over 250,000. Now, it is estimated that over 320,000 people have been killed – many of them civilians, and many of them children. In 2016 alone, at least 652 children died in conflict in Syria.
These statistics are shocking, but the truth is that the impact of the war on Syria’s children is far more widespread and devastating. An entire generation of children are at risk. Millions are still living under threat of attack in Syria, some of them under siege. Children are dying not only from the violence, but also from disease, starvation and lack of medical care. Access to education is being eroded. Parents are taking desperate measures – including forced labour and child marriage – just to ensure the survival of their children.
Outside of Syria, nearly 5.1 million Syrian refugees are registered with the UN. Of these, 2.4 million are children who rely on humanitarian assistance for their survival.
As a mother, and an advocate for human rights, these facts are heartbreaking to me.
My dear friend Georgie (founder of The Grace Tales) and I recently put our heads together to come up with way that we - and our businesses - can do our small part to raise awareness about the crisis in Syria...
Today we are proud to launch a collaboration benefitting the important work that UNICEF is doing to support the mothers and children of Syria. Atelier X Grace is a collection of MAMA and MINI sweaters. We are aiming to heighten awareness of the current situation in Syria and the mothers and children that need our help. 10% from the sale of every MAMA and MINI sweater will be donated to UNICEF to support their work in the areas of health, nutrition, immunisation, water, sanitation, education and child protection in Syria and with Syrian refugee populations.
Never did the thought occur to me back in 2011 that the Syrian war would drag on for so long, devastate so many, and cause the biggest mass migration and humanitarian crisis since World War Two.
If you haven’t already, I urge you to read about the crisis in Syria, and if you can to make a donation to one of the many organisations doing life-saving work for Syrians.