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.
In October we celebrated some of the first Syrian refugees that arrived here over six years ago, becoming US citizens. It was a great event, and we got to hear from some of them about their experiences when they first arrived and what it has been like to be a refugee and come to a new country. We also had presentations by the director of the state’s refugee office, a member of another NGO working with refugees, and the Deputy Mayor of Bothell, a Muslim-American who immigrated to the US with his family as a child from.
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!