SCM Medical Missions

A message from Rita Zawaideh, CEO of SCM

I went to sleep last night thinking this is the fifth year of the Syrian crisis and it is not getting any better. We seem to be going backwards every day. People ask why are people fleeing Syria and all I can do is show them the pictures and tell them some of the stories that the Syrian have told us to what happened to them when in Syria. They are all looking for a better existence for their children.

Most Syrians love their country and are proud of being Syrian. They cannot see an end to the fighting as we here in the West do not see an end.

Inside Syria, the situation has continued to worsen, with fighting intensifying in all regions and the economy and services in a state of general collapse. This is driving yet more people to leave, but is also having a profound impact on those who have already escaped to neighboring countries.

When people flee from war, they usually do so hoping to return soon. So they move nearby, perhaps to family or friends in a nearby town, or just across the border, where they can keep an eye on their homes and livelihoods. But after more than five years of conflict, many Syrians have now abandoned that hope. Their homes have been devastated, their families torn apart, and there is little prospect for peace. With nothing left, and their places of exile under increasing strain, hundreds of thousands of people are now ready to travel much further to find the security they so desperately need.

In most countries, refugees are not allowed to enter the labor market formally and face sanctions if caught. In Jordan, for example, they risk being returned to the camps; in Lebanon, they are forced to sign a pledge not to work if they wish to renew their residency status.

Without income, people are forced, first, to spend their savings, and then to take on debt. Even worse options may then lie in store. After years of grueling costs, many are simply no longer able to pay for rent, food or basic items.

SCM started the campaign to work in Jordan almost five years ago and we were organizing about 6 missions each year. After 4 years we were hearing about more people crossing the border to Turkey and then taking the boats to Lesbos, Greece. SCM moved its operations to Lesbos to help the refugees arriving there. After about 6 months on the island the situation changed and the different EU countries started to close their borders and people got stranded on the border of Greece and Macedonia. SCM moved our operation on Lesbos to northern Greece and the Idomeni area camps. We set up mobile clinics and the volunteers still kept coming and wanting to help. Last week the Greek government started to close those makeshift camps and moving the refugees to official military-run camps. We have been asked to work in those camps by the Greek government and SCM agreed. We set up our clinic and started working at the Sindos camp this past week.

Now what is next for the Syrians?

Before this move a lot of them wanted to stay in Idomeni near the border and be ready when it opened to cross to the Europe they had seen in the news- that was greeting them with open arms and flowers and welcome signs, but that has stopped and now they are stuck in this endless cycle of not sure where to go and what life has left for them.

When I go to the camps and talk to the refugees and try and give them hope I am also trying to give myself hope that we will be able to do more than just the medical id and the humanitarian. I want to reassure them that they will have a life and there will be schools for their kids to go to and they will have food, clothing and a roof over their head, but honestly I am not seeing anything like that.

What is the world doing but turning their backs on these people, they really want to go home. Like everyone else in any major crisis- is get out to protect yourself and your family and then as things get better go back home, but even that has been taken away from them.

I never thought I would still be doing this work for this long- this has taken over my life and I have been obsessed with trying to figure a way out to help, but I keep being hit with a wall. I am living in my house with heat, water, car and food can do what I want, but these people cant. There are so many that I know, the tour guide I used to use in Syria had to flee, friends of my daughter, family members that are spread all over the place and can’t ever see each other or attend a family funeral, or a wedding, or any other family event. People that are forced to get married in the camps and ant have the wedding that they had planned for. All they see is where are we going to be in a week or a month or a year from now. Where will my kids be- will they be alive. Some parents I talk to are so depressed that suicide is in their thoughts since they do not believe they are good parents not able to take care of their own. Women left to take care of 4 or 5 or more children not sure where to get the means to feed and clothe them, since the husband or the man of the house was killed tortured or in prison.

Please help us by making a donation of any size to help them live a decent life until we (the world) can find a solution to this crisis.

May 28, 2016

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