Our team in Jordan just held food distribution for Syrian refugees in the area. This was to provide food for the Eid celebration and beyond. Each food parcel has about a month’s worth of food staples such as rice, beans, sugar and salt, tomoato paste and more.
None of this would have been possible without your invaluable support. Your generous donations have transformed lives, as we strive to alleviate hunger amongst the refugees there.
Unfortunately, the journey for many refugees in Jordan remains filled with hardships. As they patiently wait for asylum claims and navigate the uncertainties of their daily lives, their unwavering hope to one day return to their beloved homes in Syria keeps them going. By joining hands with us, you become a beacon of hope for these brave individuals, lighting the way towards a brighter future.
Together, let’s continue making a difference and spreading compassion to those in need. Your continued support not only provides nourishment but also ignites a spark of resilience within the hearts of the Syrian refugees, reminding them that they are not alone in their struggle. Join us on this journey of compassion and empower them to overcome adversity, one step at a time.
As 2022 comes to a close, we want to thank everyone who has been a part of SCM Medical Missions’ many achievements this year. We have had so many volunteers help with resettled refugees, here in the Seattle area and across Washington state, and also overseas. People have helped in our clothing banks set up for the incoming Afghan refugees, delivered supplies from Seattle to Spokane, helped families with paperwork and job searches, and even obtaining a vehicle. We have a new representative for our Lebanon work who travels between Seattle and Beirut several times a year to organize distributions, take care of the incoming containers and warehouse, and set up our new clinics.
We have helped get newly arrived Syrian families set up in their new apartments in Spokane. The Amazon wish lists we have put together for them have been a big help as it allows items to be shipped directly to the family in Spokane. A larger NGO helps the refugees get an apartment and some furniture, but so many household items are left to the family to get, basic things like bedding, towels, dishes and cooking utensils and pots and pans, cleaning supplies. By setting up the Amazon lists, we help them save whatever money they may have, which is usually very little, for things like future rent after the three months provided by the resettlement agency runs out, or utility bills. You have even helped them with groceries and warm winter coats.
Earlier in 2022 we were collecting clothing, bicycles, laptops, hygiene supplies, and sewing machines for the resettled Afghan refugees in the Seattle/Renton area, and you came through for us with your donations and volunteering at the refugee service center where the local refugees in need come come and pick up the clothing and other items they needed. It was a huge success, serving up to 160 refugees each time it was opened. We had bicycle donations from individuals and groups like Holy Spokes and businesses like Harvey’s Bicycles. Sewing machines were brought in to give to the families, along with sewing supplies and tools.
We have also been assisting LGBTQ community members and Gender Rights Activists get out of Afghanistan and to safety. In Afghanistan they are now subject to execution, and in some of the most horrific ways. They travel via Pakistan before continuing on to either the US or Canada. We are supporting them while they wait in Pakistan to continue their journey, and then there are sponsors we are working with in Canada who will help them locally. In Canada the refugees will receive help for a year from the government, rather than just three months, but they often still need additional assistance for things other than rent and food. The sponsors also help them with paperwork, familiarizing them with their new city, and in general helping them feel welcome and connected to the community. Most of all, they help them discover their freedom to be who they want to be and love who they want to love.
SCM now has two warehouses in the Middle East. One is in Jordan that we have had for many years, and the other one is in Lebanon that was just opened this year. We had shipped several containers to Lebanon during the pandemic, and due to a number of reasons, they were held up in customs for over a year. The shipping costs also rose during the pandemic. A 40-foot container once cost $2500 to send to Lebanon but the price has gone over $7000. We thank you for the continued support as we absorbed these increased costs to sending aid to the people of Lebanon.
One way we have been able to continue to get aid to Lebanon has been to send suitcases filled with needed items such as medications, solar lanterns, and other small items with people traveling to the region. The suitcases are then handed off to our local coordinators who get them to the warehouse and also see to their distribution. Cash donations are also sent to purchase food and medicines locally and distribute to the people in need.
Another impact of the pandemic was not being able to conduct medical missions to Jordan or other areas where we had previously been working. Now that travel is much less restricted, we will be organizing a mission to Lebanon in early 2023 and opening a new women and children’s clinic there alongside our new dental clinic. We have rented a 2500 square-foot space and it will be furnished with a dental suite donated by a dentist here in Seattle along with other medical supplies and equipment sent in our containers from Seattle. Without these donations we would not be able to make this work.
Plans for 2023
In 2023 we will continue to help the resettled refugees in Washington. As they arrive, SCM is notified that there is a new family and we will continue to create Amazon lists and provide other assistance to take up any shortfall they may be facing.
SCM is putting a renewed focus on the LGBTQ refugees and Gender Rights Activists, helping them get to safety. We are working with a group of sponsors that are helping the Afghan LGBTQ refugees make their was through Pakistan and other neighboring countries to get to Canada or the US. We will continue to help with expenses for daily living as well as the costs of visas and other paperwork.
One of our biggest projects for 2023 will be to maintain the clinics in Lebanon. After the explosion at the Port of Beirut and the economic collapse in the country, so many people are still unable to access primary medical and dental care. Our clinic will be for those in need and we will try to help as many people as we can. Be sure to watch for the medical mission announcements and please donate to help the people of Lebanon with our new clinics.
To keep the medical and dental clinics staffed and operating we estimate the cost will be about $5000 per month. Once they are open, we will have regular medical and dental missions there where volunteer doctors, dentists, and nurses can come and help out for a week or so. We need to continue to raise funds for the clinic to ensure that the people in need there will have access and can get general care.
All of us at SCM in Seattle, Jordan, and Lebanon wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season and prosperous new year and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support!
School has started in Jordan and many of the refugees living there outside the camps have difficulty affording school supplies for their children. SCM is helping out by getting bags and supplies for them. On September 5th we received in 400 kits to our warehouse containing a bag, water bottle, pencil bag and supplies. On the 6th, we distributed them to the displaced Syrian children living in and around Madaba, Jordan.
SCM has long maintained our warehouse in Madaba to hold supplies donated and shipped to Jordan and those we send funds for purchasing in Jordan. This warehouse has been the central storage and distribution center for clothing, blankets, shoes, toys, medical equipment, sewing machines, school supplies, hygiene supplies and food aid. Our mission in the region would not be what it is without this facility.
Enjoy the video slideshow of the arrival of the bags and the distribution!
“After ten years, half of the Syrian population has been forced to flee their homes. (…) The gravity of this crisis must not weaken our solidarity for Syrians. On the contrary, we must redouble our collective effort to support both refugees and the communities hosting them. “
Filippo Grandi, UNHCR High Commissioner
Ten years ago, on July 28, 2012, the Za’atari Refugee Camp opened in Jordan to shelter the Syrians fleeing the war in their home country. At the time everyone thought it would be temporary. That was ten years ago. The camp now is on the top ten list of most populous cities in Jordan with 80,000 residents – just slightly less than the population of Aqaba. This is down from the all-time high of 156,000 in 2013 before a second camp opened in Zarqa to the east, but it is still a very large population of people living in poor conditions in the middle of an open semi-desert area. It is operated by the UN and has a number of other agencies and NGOs that help on a regular basis, but they are all stretched thin due to crises in other locations around the world.
The UNHCR has put out a call to all those currently working with the camp, and those, like SCM who have helped in the past but have had to move on to other emergencies, to step up in anyway they can to stop a rapidly deteriorating situation. SCM is going to answer this call with your help.
Za’atari has transformed into a medium sized city in Jordan with 1800 shops and businesses that employ 3600 refugees. The UNHCR also helps the refugees get work permits with an aim to reduce dependency on aid, but with the economic situation in Jordan, this is very difficult. The camp has 32 schools and over 55 community centers and provides basic medical services to the refugees. Each refugee family receives some assistance, and the economic activity in the camp spills out into the local area including the nearby city of Mafraq. The aid is being converted into mobile payments to make it easier for people to get and spend the aid, and even save a bit, especially if they have a job or operate a business in the camp. But for 80,000 people, it is not enough.
“Shams Elysees” or main shopping and business street in the camp. The name is a play on the Arabic word for Damascus. All kinds of businesses have opened here – cell phone shops, wedding dress stores, bakeries and restaurants, bicycle and motorcycle repair shops, and more.
In 2013 the UNHCR began replacing the tents with caravans (portable buildings) that are essentially four walls, a floor and a roof. They might have a small sink, some shelving and a storage cabinet, and mattress pads for sitting and sleeping. The lifespan of the caravans is only 6-8 years, so the majority are in urgent need of repair. These shelters have become home to the Syrians, and they are trying to make the best of them, but the structures were not meant for long-term continued use.
The economic fallout of covid is also affecting the refugees, which are allowed work permits to get jobs in most sectors in Jordan, but the lack of job openings means many remain unemployed. They are forced to depend on dwindling assistance from the UN and other agencies to survive.
Water is another issue creating hardship for the refugees. Most refugees at the camp say the water they have access to is not enough to survive on. This is a problem intensified by water shortages from the Euphrates River and extreme heat in the region. Jordan gets some of its water from Israel, and some from the Euphrates River in Syria, which is dammed by Turkey, and access is sometimes used as a bargaining chip, or threat, depending on the issue.
The camp is powered by solar power, but the camp has grown beyond the original required output estimates of the power plant, leaving the residents of the camp electricity for 9-11 hours per day. Water storage tanks are inadequate to their needs and the delivery of water to the tanks needs to be increased, especially during the hot summer months.
SCM has a plan to help refugees living in Za’atari and our goal is $75,000 to do the following:
Provide more water tanks for more families
Help with the cost of filling those tanks on a regular basis
Provide funds and/or supplies to perform maintenance and repairs on caravans
Provide supplemental nutrition to make sure children are getting enough to stay healthy
Please donate today! Any amount helps – it could help buy a water tank or provide another week’s worth of water, or it could provide the supplies to repair a caravan with a crumbling roof or wall, or it could provide food for families that have to severely cut back.
SCM did a distribution last week in Jordan that included hand-made dolls, stuffed animals, wheelchairs and crutches. These were sent over last year in a container to our warehouse in Jordan. Thank you to the people who donated the toys and the medical equipment!
Photo is from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Yes, snow does fall in the Middle East, but as you can imagine, it has a terrible impact on the refugees in the region still living in tents and other temporary shelters. Heavy snow can crush tents and ruin a family’s possessions, and leave them without shelter in the frigid and wet conditions. This is particularly true of northwest Syria, where snow and heavy rains have caused flooding and damaged roads, water supplies, and shelters across the region.
SCM has a partner in Turkey that can get supplies to northwest Syria and we need your help to get these supplies – blankets, food, medicines, heating oil, etc. We also need to help those affected in Lebanon and Jordan. While snow is not uncommon in the mountainous regions of Lebanon, snow at the coast in towns like Byblos is very rare and disruptive, and they did receive snow there yesterday. Many people in the region are being affected by the cold, snow and rain. Please help us to help them!