22May2022

SCM Medical Missions

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Tag: Humanitarian aid

Humanitarian AidSyria

Urgent Call for Help in Madaya

Mass starvation in Syria

In a mountain city 15 miles outside of Damascus, there are no cats or dogs roaming the streets because they have all been killed for food. Mothers are no longer able to produce milk to feed their babies. People are making soup out of grass, if they can find it. Many people are so emaciated, they are little more than skin and bones. And to make matters worse, if that is imaginable, freezing winter weather with snow has hit the region hard.

The town of Madaya, which is near the border with Lebanon, has been cut off for many months by a siege of the Assad regime forces that have surrounded the town that is controlled by various rebel groups. No food or medical aid has been able to get in and what little does get smuggled in costs exorbitant amounts of money – there are rumors of a kilo of milk costing more than $100 and a kilo of rice can reach over $150. The last food aid delivery came three months ago.

Madaya

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 10 people have died from lack of food and medicine in the town.

Another 13 have been killed by regime mines or snipers while trying to leave in search of food, the monitoring group said.

It said regime forces had placed additional mines and barbed wire around Madaya since the September deal, adding that some 1,200 people inside had chronic illnesses, and more than 300 children there were suffering from malnutrition and other ailments.

“Many of the town’s residents have been forced to survive on weeds and others pay huge sums of money at government checkpoints to obtain food,” Observatory director Rami Abdul Rahman said.

An agreement has been reached to allow aid in to the city, but it has yet to be implemented. It is expected to be implemented any day now. As soon as it is, our partner IHR will be there with food and supplies for the people of Madaya. Please donate now to help us help end the suffering in Madaya.

Click here to donate to our Madaya fund.

RefugeesSyriaUncategorized

My last few days on Lesvos

One last post from our volunteer Raafia G. Thank you for sharing your experience and photos!


 

My last few days on Lesvos have been even more overwhelming than the firsts. I’ve learned that for most, it doesn’t get any easier any step of the way. It’s made me really think about how horrible their lives must have been in their homeland to pick up everything they ever knew, some leaving their families behind, to come start over enduring physical and emotional pain and anxiety every step of the way. There have been several children sent with their aunts and uncles or relatives in hopes of a better life. I’ve seen families both caring for relatives’ children like they are their own, but also those who have abandoned and robbed them. I’ve seen children who have witnessed their parents being taken or killed in front of their eyes. I have heard stories that boats were trying to be drowned. I have seen wounds and bruising that have made them want to escape so badly that don’t even care if they stay in Greece forever.

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Children waiting for the bus to Oxy Camp.

Every story pains my heart and I feel lucky I have had the opportunity to meet some of the refugees and hear their stories. I’ve met doctors, lawyers, teachers, regular people just like me and you. I have learned a lot from them, about how little one needs to really survive and be content and what really is important in life.

They have taught me the power of prayer. Some of them, especially the elderly come off boats soaking wet and freezing, but praying and thanking God for protecting them and their family and keeping them alive. They have taught me that faith, family, freedom, food, and shelter are basic human rights and all one really needs.

I have learned that children are very resilient. I will never forget the children I have met, the smiles on their faces, and their laughter as I’ve played with them. I will never forget the faces of the children I had to ration food with and turn away. I will never forget the feeling of hope they have as they arrive from Turkey.

The faces of helpless exhausted families who have been robbed or beaten will forever stay with me. I pray that they all will be taken care of and that they make it to their final destination easily and safely. I have seen prayers answered and the joy of families’ faces when their registration is complete and they are allowed to leave to their next destination. I hope they find peace and happiness in their new life.

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Life vest hill. About every week they get buried and then thousands more re-collect. Hard to believe every one represents a person.

Although my time here is over, I am already trying to plan my return. There is so much to be done and so much help is needed.

I’d like to thank all of the volunteers across the world that really have been working for humanity. People putting their lives on hold for weeks and months, people quitting their jobs and selling their homes to help this cause. It has truly been a beautiful experience with wonderful selfless people. I will never forget the friends I have made and the bonds that were created in the most vulnerable times. My team has been remarkable and has done great things that the most critical times. I’d like to thank my big sister Rayesa, the best travel buddy I could have asked for, and without whom my experience wouldn’t have been the same. Thanks for taking care of me, for being the mom of the team, and being my sanity through it all.

Peace out Lesvos. Until next time…

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Some of the children helped to distribute food at Moria camp.

GreeceIraqJordanRefugeesSyria

A Whirlwind

Here is another post from Raafia G. 


 

The past two days have been a whirlwind and have felt like weeks. Every time I thought I heard the most heartbreaking story another family would arrive with there’s. It’s hard to stay strong for these refugees as they come off the boats from Turkey, but it’s amazing how your body can turn into overdrive and not let your emotions take over.

It’s hard to differentiate who has it worse, because we only know half the story and no idea what else they need to endure. Many of these people have been beaten up, robbed, and have had guns and knives put to them or their families. They have been cheated and lied to in every way. They have been given boats with not enough fuel to last the distance across and given life vests that aren’t even real. They are so desperate to flee their countries, they are buying raft boats from gyro shops in Turkey. They have been told their journey should take twenty minutes, and begin to worry when it’s been hours. They are freezing cold, soaking wet, and terrified. Some have been separated from their families or their families have been killed or died at sea. Everyone is in shock.

We have seen thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and migrants from Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, and the Congo. The one thing they all have in common is their sincere gratitude. Each and every one has been constantly thanking us and sending us prayers. They have said that the volunteers they have encountered in Greece have been the kindest people they have ever encountered. They offer to give us any leftover jewelry off their body as tokens of appreciation and love. One grandmother even said to me and my team in Arabic, that if she could give us her eyes or hands or heart she would because that is all she has now, all while sending us constant prayers. The NGOs have been remarkable and I am truly blessed to have this opportunity to be a part of them. ‪#‎SCMHelp4Syrians

GreeceHumanitarian AidJordanLebanonRefugeesSyria

End of the Year Message From SCM

11080607_809866319089173_4273504412661129460_oYour home country is all that you know — it’s where you were raised, where you’ve loved, and where you’ve lived all your years. So what happens when one day, without warning, or without cause, that sense of security is ripped from you? War, violence, persecution for who you are or what you believe; your home has become the crucible for your greatest fears, a place you no longer recognize. You’re afraid for your life, for your family — you don’t know where to go but you know you can’t stay. You and your family are forced to flee into an unknown future and the unknown peril it may hold.

You are a refugee.

This is the all-too-common experience of millions of innocent men, women, and children across the globe who have been driven from the place they once called home. And right now, the world is witnessing the human suffering of the thousands of families fleeing the conflict in Syria — their personal tragedies spotlighted on the front pages of newspapers around the world as they risk their lives to find safe haven.

What we at SCM have done to help

At the beginning of 2015 year we were coordinating medical/humanitarian missions every few months.  Our volunteer teams would be based in Amman helping the urban refugees and also the refugees that are in camps.  During this period we handed out over ½ million dollars’ worth medicines.  We shipped 5 containers to Jordan filled with clothes and medical supplies, teaching materials and games and stuffed animals that have been distributed.

IMG_1174We had food drives in Jan, April, July and Oct that fed up to 1000 people each. The food was distributed in packages containing food staples such as cooking oil, rice, beans, cheese, salt, tea, sugar, etc.  The cost of this package is $31 and could feed a family of four for one month. You can still donate to this program as we will continue it in 2016.

With our partner Direct Relief we were able to supply King Hussein Medical Hospital with a total of $250,000 worth of medicine to be used for the local communities.  This was shipped every three months to the hospital.

snow-lebanonDuring the winter months we worked with IHR in Lebanon and helped them purchase oil heaters and fuel and firewood to distribute to the refugees in the Arsal region. This is the very mountainous region near the border with Syria. We will do so again this year and into 2016.

In August as we heard about the situation in Greece getting worse, we sent an assessment team to the Greek island of Lesbos to check out the situation and see what we could do there.  The assessment team sent us their report and we decided that we needed to begin organizing missions right away. We began asking for mission volunteers and the first group went out in late September. Teams go every week and will do so through February 2016, at least. We are constantly reevaluating the situation there and determining our effectiveness there.

10422156_10102494704978039_5960911848601686534_nThe island of Lesbos is receiving about 3,000 refugees per day. At the beginning we were fighting with the local government, trying to make things easier for the people arriving, but it was hard work.  Basil Sawalha, SCM’s Regional Manager in Jordan, was brought in to set up the arrangements and make the needed contacts with the locals.  His son Jamal soon joined him and was in charge of logistics – transportation, getting the people off the boats and into clinics and to the camps, and whatever help was needed.  For the last two and a half months they have been there with our teams and have seen the tragedy unfold before their eyes, including the deaths of numerous refugees from capsizing boats, including children. They have also seen the smiles on the face of the refugees as they arrive and are welcomed by the volunteers. These missions have been very hard on everyone that is there, and they never return home the same.

Since 2011, almost 12 million people, equivalent to half of the Syrian population, have been displaced by the conflict, including 7.6 million displaced inside Syria. Their homes and schools have been bombed out of existence by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s merciless regime. Their lives have been imperiled by ISIL and terrorism. They are fleeing to neighboring countries, but they cannot work there and they are stuck in camps, simply existing. They make the journey to Europe in order to rebuild their lives, get their children back in school and work to support themselves. Many of the people seeking refuge are teachers, engineers, doctors, business people, business etc. There is nothing for them in the camps in the surrounding countries, so they make the decision to move on, make that dangerous sea crossing.

We thank you for all your support for 2015, but the tragedy is still ongoing and we still need you.  We have extended our missions in Greece until the end of February for now and will continually evaluate the situation and extend the missions as needed. We will be there with your help to help the people that need us the most.

What can you do to help

Get involved and help relief agencies, like SCM, help the refugees.  Please donate what you can at this time.  If your company does matching let us know as we are a 501c3 charitable organization.  If you have not yet decided who to give to before the end of the year please do so soon – time is running out and the cold weather is upon us both here and in Greece, Jordan and Lebanon.  Open up your hearts and give.

Click on the Donate link at the top of this page to contribute.

Thank you!

~Rita Zawaideh, President of SCM

Greece

Calm before the storm? Mission Update 12/3/2015

12/3/2015

Hi all,

As we gaze towards the Turkish coast, we see the Turkish Coast Guard trolling back and forth all day…and almost no arrivals on this side. Oxy camp is empty. We did some minor jobs and drove down the coast to Skala Camp, also quiet.

Yesterday we helped the Greek Coast Guard to process a group of 74 they had picked up offshore. The buses picked them up by noon and by five o’clock we saw three of the men when we visited Moria Camp, which is nearly empty. Those three men were already being registered, showing how fast the processing has become.

After visiting a likewise-quiet Kara Tepe Camp, we went to the ferry terminal and saw probably a thousand or two refugees queued up to board the 8:00 pm boat to Athens. Our wonderful Arabic speakers assisted in helping sort out some confusion and aiding passengers own what to do.

Today we saw the massive dump site where discarded life vests have been deposited. It really provides a startling visual representation of the population that has fled their violent homelands through this poor island.

Despite their dire economic situation, the Greeks have demonstrated many acts of kindness and humanity. One minor example is that restaurant owners show their support of our efforts with a discount on meals.

No one knows if or when the boats will start arriving again But most believe they will. It is getting very cold, one cannot cross in rubber boats without getting soaked, and nighttime crossings will be terrible, especially for vulnerable children and elderly. We remain vigilant  the next call.

Brian

These photos were taken by Sharif at the harbor. The volunteers helped get the refugees dried and warm. We have extra clothes if they need to change out of wet clothes. The mylar emergency blankets are really helpful because they are small, light, and easy to transport.

Lesvos1 Lesvos2 Lesvos3

Greece

Greece Mission Update 12/1/2015

12/1/2015

Hi all,

We we worked a big boat this morning that may have been overloaded with as many as 250 Kurds. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTxYwLGl1Y0

Later, while we were at Lighthouse beach, we saw the big Greek navy ship go by. With binoculars we could see refugees on the aft deck. We raced off for the harbor only to find they were heading for the customs dock down the coast, so we raced over there. We got there just before the ship did and were able to help the Afghans.

We briefly helped back at the harbor after dinner with a small group.

It is clear that the agreement with Turkey is not going to stop the flow for some time though it has slowed considerably. The Turks will have to make life awfully enticing to make the refugees want to stay. How much can 3 billion  for 2.2 million refugees do?

We stopped by Oxy camp before returning to the hotel but nothing was happening there. Basel was then off to pick up Sharif at the airport.

Brian