What refugees in Athens did to my heart

Ever had your heart grow bigger and break at the same time? Mine did last month: I met and helped feed Syrian refugees in Greece.

As unreal as that last sentence sounds, the experience seared a deep desire in me that impacts that way I mother my babies and do business. (Stick with me. There are some key lessons for life and mamapreneurship coming …)

Let's go to Athens

When I found a crazy-good deal on flights last fall, a traveling friend and I (hi, Anne!) planned a Mama Spring Break to an international city we’d never seen. Athens.

While I was pretty psyched to visit the Parthenon, big-hearted Anne turned our trip into traveling with purpose. In addition to an ancient architecture geek-fest, Anne’s eyes were set on humanitarian aid efforts. (Do I have amazing friends or what!?)

Anne’s friend Hayley leads the non-profit Lifting Hands International. So Anne asked Hayley how we could help refugees in Athens. Since many of the government camps are over-run, she recommended raising money to provide fresh food for refugee families who live in “squats” or abandoned buildings.

So she did. Anne set up a GoFundMe account and nearly 70 beautiful humans donated $3,300+ to help buy fresh food for refugees. (Anne gets all the credit here. I basically just showed up!)

Meeting (and loving) refugees

As we walked the Anarchist District's graffiti-covered streets, I was nervous to meet with the family of refugees who would be our tour guides. Their warmness quickly soothed my concerns. They welcomed Anne and me into their borrowed, humble apartment. They made us lunch and treated us like their own.

I taught their boys "Go Fish" with a deck of cards. Their two-year-old's obsession with my phone reminded me of my kids, thousands of miles away.

I saw how  this sweet family, who had been through so much, love each other. The love in their home was almost palpable.

They took us to see the run-down school where hundreds of refugees are staying. Five families live in one classroom, separated only by blankets. They have no privacy and depend on donations for food. In the courtyard, men played Arabic music and kids rode "horsey" on discarded metal bars.

This wasn't the news. I couldn't change the channel. These were living, breathing human beings who were forced to leave their country and live in really rough conditions.

I held back big tears.

Then a long-lashed darling girl, perhaps four, rushed up to hold my hands and dance.

I kept thinking over and over, "We live in such abundance in the USA," and "family is all that really matters."

We spent the next several hours with Abu (the dad of the family, who all the refugees see as a leader and call "Baba," or Papa) selecting a week's worth of fresh food for the refugees at the squat.

We used every donated penny to buy produce, cheese, meat, cooking oil, and other essentials.

It felt like so little, when they will have to find a new source of sustenance a week later ... but a drop in an ocean of need is still a drop!

 Travel life with purpose: mamahood and business

We all have moments when we realize our seeming “problems” are small and we’re humbled into remembering to be grateful for all we have.

Meeting refugees in Athens flooded me with desire to do my part on the planet. It's safe to say most people want to make the world a better place. This has been documented over and over for millennials. We're a purpose-driven generation of digital natives.

After a successful year of being a business owner myself, I'm co-founding a new venture I really believe in. Our mission at The Mama Ladder™ International is to help women succeed at the intersection of mamahood and entrepreneurship. I feel incredibly passionate about helping other mothers create a business they love that fits their life. (I'll be sharing more soon ... for now, you can sign up here to know when we officially launch this summer.)

At The Mama Ladder™ International, we seek to lift as we climb. So, we have an announcement.

We commit 10% of profits from The Mama Ladder™ International to causes that help mothers and families. 

Since you've read this far, we could talk about our mamapreneur mentoring sessions coming up, BUT we'd rather share why being in business drives us.

We want to do a whole lot of GOOD in the world.

You don't have to go around the globe to help those who need it. We invite you to take a few minutes to send some refugee mamas some love ... We'll do the same:

Lifting Hands International

Women of the World

Keep climbing,