One Refugee Child
A One Refugee Child focuses on micro-initiatives, helping build playgrounds at refugee camps and providing blankets and boots to refugee children. Photograph courtesy One Refugee Child.

Socially Conscious Networking

Buoyed by the power of social media, alumnae Monica Garrido, ’04, and Megan Morgan, ’06, help Syrian refugee children in crisis.

When images of a drowned Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach made global news in September 2015, the Syrian refugee crisis hit home for Megan Morgan, ’06. “As a mom myself,” Morgan said, “my heart ached to see that suffering.”

Morgan—the Chicago-based head of equity and index sales for the Americas at the derivatives exchange Eurex—began searching for ways to help Syrian refugees. Seeing news footage of refugee parents carrying their children, Morgan recalled the importance of her stroller when she traveled around Europe with her young son. “It was his space where he could nap if he was tired, and it was a luggage rack for me,” Morgan said. “I thought, ‘Their life could be a little bit easier if only they had a stroller.’”

My heart ached to see that suffering.

Megan Morgan

A Google search led Morgan to discover the humanitarian efforts of Louisianan Marie Beechy. Beechy had been inspired by a Facebook comment from Anca Ponea, a resident of Lesbos, Greece, who had shared her first-person reaction to the refugee crisis at her doorstep on the Facebook page Humans of New York. Beechy contacted Ponea and the two began a grassroots effort called One Stroller—Many Steps Forward to provide assistance to Syrian refugees. “Marie was buying strollers off Amazon,” Morgan said, “and shipping them to Anca in Greece,” who would furnish them to refugee families. The next day, Morgan set up a crowdfunding site with the goal of raising $5,000 to purchase and ship strollers. She had soon raised three times that goal and quickly realized the effort required more infrastructure to accommodate the sudden growth.

Facebook again provided a solution. Surfing the social networking site, Monica Garrido, ’04, a fellow Booth alumna with a background in international marketing, came across a post by Megan about the stroller project. “I read Megan’s story and thought, ‘Gee, yesterday I left my house without a stroller with my three kids and I was complaining about walking 100 feet,’” recalled Garrido, a Connecticut-based partner in the consulting firm Global Frontier Partners, headquartered in Bangalore, India. She connected with Morgan and offered her assistance with fundraising and public relations.

We communicate the results through photos, commentary, and stories.

Monica Garrido

In January 2016, the One Stroller—Many Steps Forward movement incorporated under the name One Refugee Child, and the organization received 501(c)(3) status in April. “We are trying to maintain our nimble grassroots structure, which enables us to easily redirect efforts with the changing needs of the crisis,” Garrido said. The charity is helping to build playgrounds at refugee camps in Lebanon; providing blankets and boots to children at camps in Turkey; and creating libraries at schools in and around Istanbul teaching refugee children. The organization strives for transparency in its donation process. “When we take on projects, we communicate the results through photos, through commentary, and through stories,” Garrido said. “We make sure the donors see exactly how they have made an impact.”

While starting with the urgent needs of these children in crisis, the charity ultimately aims to provide a foundation for a better quality of life. “We want to make a sustainable impact on these children’s lives, beyond just helping them survive the day to day,” Morgan said. “That means education, skills training, just being able to play. Being able to be a child.”

To find out more, visit One Refugee Child. For tax deductible donations and corporate partnerships, please contact Monica Garrido.

—By Sam Jemielty