A container with 15,000 hygiene kits containing shampoo, combs and towels will be leaving the Elizabeth port this weekend bound for Turkey to help Syrian refugees there.
The shipment is a project of a coalition of nearly 70 faith based and humanitarian organizations that have organized to address the Syrian refugee crisis. The kits were loaded on a ship to Turkey on World Humanitarian Day, which is commemorated on Friday and is an annual reminder of the need to help the suffering. The kits are expected to arrive at their destination in about six weeks.
“These are items we take for granted, but if you are a refugee living in a place that doesn’t have anything, you don’t even have a comb or a nail clipper, and this is essential for them,’’ said Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, director, outreach communications, programs and Multifaith Relations for the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, the lead organizer. “Hygiene as the United Nations and other world health organizations will tell you, to maintain grooming and hygiene is basic to maintaining their health.”
Greenberg said more than 800 volunteers gathered at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York in June to assemble the hygiene kits and the volunteers included Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists.
Among those who helped with the assembling of the kits was Harjot Kaur, community development manager for The Sikh Coalition based in New York and a Hudson County resident. She said at least 50 Sikhs from New York and New Jersey participated in the assembling event including members of the Glen Rock Sikh temple.
“We had kids of all ages, we had parents and grandparents,’’ she said. “We had every single age that we could.”
She said some of the Sikh volunteers could relate to the plight of the Syrian refugees.
“They are extremely troubled by what is happening in the Middle East and the refugee crisis all over,’’ she said. “We were, a lot of our families were refugees who came over to America and faced a lot of similar troubles… this particular event was something that hit home for a lot of families as well.”
The coalition teamed up with Heart to Heart International and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a global Jewish humanitarian group, to ship the kits.
“We are extremely grateful for the support from all the partners, volunteers and sponsors who made this shipment possible,” said Jim Mitchum, chief executive officer for Heart to Heart International in a statement.
The hygiene kits will be distributed to refugees by MFA’s international partner, Orient for Human Relief.
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