First I Was A Wilzig

Recently I was contacted by the UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency), they would like to reach my audience. It’s been a week, and I’ve been trying to think of how I would tackle this subject.

Because it’s close to my heart and I’m fearful of editing myself too much, I’m just going to write today and immediately hit publish.

Before I married a Gottlieb, I was a Wilzig. We’re not a big family, and we’re not really a close family, but distance will do that to you. You see, my family fled Nazi Germany. Well, the family that was able to flee. What happens when you are part of a refugee family is very different. Not every part of this story is mine to tell, but I can tell you this, I am grateful.

The simple fact that I was born in America is reason enough to be grateful. Now, I have this wonderful audience. I have you, my readers, who keep me on track with almost instant feedback. I have a community of techies, of moms, of dads and of givers.

Today, as you are sitting in front of your computer a Mother in Somalia is grabbing her children and whatever she can carry to flee as the conflict reaches her doorstep. My biggest concerns have been recalled baby toys, and a lack of fresh organic fruit. There are women and children without shelter, without a country.

I’m such a lucky woman. I’ve had the best of everything that the world can give, and my struggles are comical compared a Somali Mother who cannot get aid, because the criminal gangs have abducted and brutally murdered humanitarian staff. The reason that I’ve been showered with the American Dream is because of agencies like the UNHCR. The Salvation Army gave my family blankets and coats when they came to America. The Red Cross and UN helped reunite my tiny family.

As women and children escape the war torn, drought ravaged country they once called home, they are sleeping without a roof over their heads. Some mothers have been separated from their children. The UNCHR is asking me and asking you to help.

What can I do?

I don’t know. I know that the first part of any sort of forward momentum is to identify the issue. The issue is that women who love their children just like you and I, cannot get to them, and cannot keep them safe, nourished or give them shelter for the evening. I could not possibly pretend that I have the solution to a problem so massive.

The United Nations Refugee Agency has a “get involved” page. I’m not yet sure just what I’ll be doing, but something is coming, and I will be asking for your support. In the interim I’d encourage you to read about their efforts and perhaps talk about the issues on your blog, in your twitter stream and on your facebook page.

These Mothers, they’re just like me. They’re just like you, they’re just like your mother. They just had the bad luck of being born in the midst of war, poverty and famine.

Really, it’s just luck.

Facebook Comments


  1. Jessica,
    You are an extremely good writer. Always very concise and to the point, which is easy to read. Yet, you have this way of being so detailed in those easy sentences. It moves me and I applaud you.


  2. Dear Jessica,

    What an amazing story, I’m looking forward to hearing more about ways to help!

    All the best,


  3. What a heart-provoking article that is simple to read and relatable. You did a wonderful job of what we call “letting it rip.” Continue to share with us, for you have a story to tell…Thank you.

  4. Pam

    Jessica, I was trying to find you on Twitter, to follow you. (I’m doing p.r. work on refugee resettlement in the U.S.) Can you tell me your Twitter handle or how I can find you?


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