SCM Medical Missions

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Tag: medical missions

GreeceHumanitarian AidUNHCR

Expanding Greece Operations for #Syrian Refugees

Changes are taking place at SCM again as we are constantly striving to be where we are needed and help as many refugees as we can. For the last year, we have been in the northern part of Greece near Thessaloniki at the camps of Frakapour and Karamalis. When we started there, the camps had about 1100 – 1200 people between the two. Now they are down to about 100 people in each camp.

The Greek government has moved the refugees out of the camps to hotels and apartments that the UNHCR is renting for them to get them out of the cold. Each day the government comes to the camps and picks a number of families to move. One of our team members has gone to look at the facilities and they say they are clean and warm, very different from what they had at the camps. When we talked to the hotel and the apartment managers, they told us that the leases were for two months. We have no idea what will happen when the leases expire.

SCM has decided, with the dwindling numbers of people in the camps in northern Greece and increasing numbers on Lesbos again, that we are moving our operation back to the island of Lesbos and the camp at Morea. Currently that camp is housing 5,000 refugees with more arriving on the beaches from Turkey every day. Because of our good relationship with the government on Lesbos, the mayor there has asked us to set up a medical clinic for the growing population of refugees at the camp. We have reached an agreement with the mayor that, in exchange for the use of a warehouse building for the clinic and storage of our supplies, we will provide medical services to the refugees and anyone on the island that needs our help.

We expect that by mid-February most of the refugees will have moved from Frakapour and Karamanlis. We will be moving all of our supplies to Lesbos and have the clinic set up shortly thereafter. Jamal Sawalha, who was the SCM team lead before will be returning from Jordan to lead this operation. We will be in need of medical and humanitarian volunteers to staff the clinic and provide other services at Morea and in the area there. Medical volunteers who can bring equipment and supplies will be in particular need (more details on needs will be coming soon), as well as Arabic, Urdu, Pashtu and Kurdish speakers. Very few organizations are able to bring in as many volunteers with the needed language skills as SCM is, and we are extremely grateful to all of our supporters who can do this. Stay tuned for more details on our upcoming missions.

Right now, we need your help to raise money to pay for the clinic set up, establishing schools in the camp, and housing for those who are vulnerable on the island of Lesbos. This would include pregnant women and their families so they have a clean and warm place to give birth and tend to the new baby, those with acute medical conditions who don’t need to be in the hospital but cannot withstand living in a tent in the wet and cold, elderly and the very young who are most susceptible to the adverse conditions, and so on. We need to get them out of the tents and into decent living conditions as quickly as possible.

The reality is that they are not going to be moving from Greece any time soon, with all the available pathways to Europe now closed, and with the suspension of the refugee resettlement program in the US, we must help them prepare to stay in Greece indefinitely. To add to Greece’s burden, Germany may be sending as many as 60,000 refugees back to Greece. The UNHCR is stretched thin and is lacking in resources, and with the US appearing to withdraw support from the refugee program, individuals and other NGOs like SCM must help more than ever.

The people of Lesbos have been very hospitable and stepped up to help at the very beginning of the refugee crisis, but their island can only take on so much. Their economy is based on tourism and agriculture, and it has been devastated by the refugee crisis. We hope to help alleviate some of their burden in helping to provide these services. The UNHCR will still be doing interviews and processing people to be resettled in other countries, but this is a long, slow process that will still take up to two years to complete.

We are asking you to dig deep and help us raise a total of $250,000 – that is our ultimate goal to provide the long-term services we have outlined for the refugees on Lesbos. You can help by donating and doing a fundraiser through Crowdrise for SCM. Just click this link, and set up your own fundraising page, share it with all your friends and family.

Please help us fully fund our operations on Lesbos so we can hit the ground running. We need to be up and providing services within a month, so the need is immediate.

Please join our fundraiser now!

Thank you!

Humanitarian AidRefugeesSyria

A small, local step to ease international suffering from war, drought

Below is an article written for the Bellingham Herald by one of our volunteers who is now helping to raise money and recently held a clothing drive to benefit SCM’s refugee aid programs. Thank you for all you are doing Barbara!!

A small, local step to ease international suffering from war, drought


I had the fortune to visit Syria in the 1990s and again in 2008. The very old country was full of the kindest people, there were antiquities everywhere one looked, and some of the wildest drivers! Today, Syria is in ruins. What happened? What is not mentioned is the drought that started in 2006 that has led to this devastating war. It has been called the worst in the past 900 years and absolutely worst these last 500 years.

Something’s Gotta Change: But When? And How?

By Dr. Bill Dienst April 29, 2016, Idomeni and Polykastro, Greece

The 40 year old man who stumbled in front of a Greek police bus while fixing his tent suffered a devastating crush injury to his head. He received immediate medical attention by Dr. Omar Al Heeti who works as part of our joint team of medical professionals from Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM), and with help from doctors from Medecins San Frontieres (MSF).

When the Greek Ambulance arrived, Dr. Omar traveled with the Ambulance crew all the way to the rural Kilkis Hospital, providing positive pressure ventilation and suctioning. The transport time was over an hour. At Kilkis, this man received intubation from a Greek anesthesiologist. Due to massive facial injuries, the intubation was extremely difficult. He was then transferred to the medical center in Thessaloniki. He remained comatose and died from his injuries two days later. He leaves behind a grieving wife and 4 small children who are still stranded in a tent in Idomeni camp.

On April 26, 2016, the Greek Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction issued the following notice in Arabic, Kurdish, Urdu and Farsi to refugees living in the camps around Idomeni:

Information to Refugees – Migrants

You are in Greece and you are guests in this country. It is your obligation to follow the rules and instructions of the Greek state.

The borders, and this is not a responsibility of the Greek government, are and will remain closed. This settlement does not cover any of your basic everyday needs. It will end its operations. You should move to the camps run by the Greek State, in a fast and coordinated way, under the responsibility of the Greek authorities.

The Greek State gives you the opportunity to stay in the temporary receptions facilities (camps, hotels, settlements and other facilities) in various areas in the country.

These facilities are open but are guarded and controlled so that you and your families are safe. There you will find food, medical care, clothes and personal hygiene items.

While in these reception facilities, you can move freely, going out and coming in, but you must return back at a specified time and you must observe the Operation Regulations. If you do not observe these rules, you will lose your right to Stay there.

You must also register. Soon after your enter the reception facility, the Greek Authorities will give you information on on your right to apply for asylum in Greece, and the option of relocation in another EU member state for those fulfilling the terms and conditions of the relocation programme. You will also receive information on the family reunification procedure so as to reunite with members of your family in EU member states.

You will also receive legal and financial aid so as to return to your country of origin in case your asylum application is rejected or in case you wish to return.

You are requested to follow the orders and instructions of the competent members of staff who will tell you how to leave this settlement in an orderly manner and how to be transported safely to the reception facilities.

Many of the refugees, and some of the international volunteers who have put so much time and effort developing the healthcare and humanitarian infrastructure at Idomeni camp, found this notice very upsetting. Some are angry with the Greek government for suggesting that Idomeni camp will soon be dismantled. MSF, Medicins du Monde, Praxis, ICRC, Safe the Children and hundreds of smaller NGO’s like us have invested tens of thousands of dollars trying to make life tolerable here. Infrastructure is still being developed: new showers, toilets, makeshift schools, etc.

Now we are finally catching up with the health care and humanitarian demands of this trapped population. For the first time, a dental clinic has started operations 5 days ago, fulfilling overwhelming dental needs. We hope to have similar dental services at the other gas station camps soon. Those of us who have been here awhile arrived to witness long queues of people shivering in the cold mud and torrential downpours of late winter rains. We had limited supplies and had to tell many people waiting in long lines “no, we don’t have the resources to help you right now with your problem.” Many of these limitations have been slowly but surely getting better.

The cold winter rains have subsided. Now, in spite of a few days of tear gas, sound grenades, rubber bullets and high winds which rip some of the tents to shreds, the overall weather and living conditions are improving.

It is no longer too cold, but soon, it will be too hot. I shudder to think what will happen in when the holy month of Ramadan starts in June and people are fasting from sunrise to sunset during the longest days of the year and summer swelter: heat stroke, dehydration, kidney stones etc. The treatment for heat stroke is to cool the patient down. But we have no air conditioned shelters, no ice, only tents, which can get hotter on the inside than on the outside during the daytime under these conditions. The nearest hospital in the town of Kilkis is over an hour away, and ambulances are limited.

No, the situations at Idomeni, EKO, BP and Hara gas stations are not tenable in the long run. We cannot blame the Greeks, for they did not ask for all this refugee crisis either. It was put upon them. The farmers in the tiny village of Idomeni (population 154) want their farmland back, and their way of life; and who can blame them? The railway station needs to reopen again soon someday.

This stalemate has to end sooner or later; maybe sooner would even be better than later, especially with the hot summer sun approaching. The problem that those of us serving the refugees face now has to do with timing: there is no way to accurately predict when the camps here will be dismantled. Meanwhile, we continue to develop further infrastructure to meet fundamental human needs for those who can’t wait.

DSCN2159Dr. Bill Dienst is a rural family and emergency room physician from North Central Washington. He has extensive experience in medical exchange programs in Veracruz, Mexico and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He is currently on assignment with Salaam Cultural Museum, a Seattle based nonprofit organization doing humanitarian and medical relief work with refugee populations in Lesbos and Idomeni, Greece.

Humanitarian AidLebanonPalestineRefugeesSyria

Quick run-down/first day stats

Here are the numbers from the first day of the current medical mission. We will have more reports shortly.

Team split between 2 buildings:

1 team saw 520 patients, mostly Syrians, and a few Palestinians

The other team was dental and psych/mental health and saw 130 dental patients and 40 psych. Most patients in this group were Palestinian and a few Syrians.

Total patients seen first day: 690


Humanitarian Aid

Malki-SCM Children’s Center Fundraiser Success!

We would like to thank everyone who came to our fundraiser dinner and auction Saturday night. It was a great success and we MET OUR GOAL!!!! Yeah! We raised just over $30,000 for the Malki-SCM Children’s Center in Jordan. This will help us operate the center for 6 months.

To everyone who helped out – our volunteers, cleaning and security staff, the valet service, our auctioneer Nassim, and everyone who donated items to be auctioned, THANK YOU! We could not have done this without you. We are very humbled by the outpouring of support for the children’s center.

Below are just a few photos from the event.


Dinner Auction Fundraiser- First Look at Auction Items!

Here is your first peek at some of the items we will have for LIVE auction on Saturday August 23rd:

  • Dinner Around the World – Catered Dinner with an International Flair, in your home for 6 people by Christine Jones, known for her fabulous cooking and catering, particularly gluten free menus that you would never know where gluten free! Value: $1000  Opening Bid: $400
  • Dancing with the Stars Tickets for 2 – VIP seating at one of the shows for the current season in Los Angeles. Rub elbows with other VIP guests and celebrities and cheer on your favorite team to the Mirror Ball Trophy! You might even be on TV!  Value: $1000  Opening Bid: $500
  • Fighter Pilot for a Day for 1: 2.5 – 3 hours, combat, tactics, video log, and debriefing.  Value: $1500  Opening Bid: $1350
  • Mayan Adventure in Belize for 2: Vacation Package at The Lodge at Big Falls, 6 days / 5 nights, includes meals, airport transfers, activities.  Value: $5420  Opening Bid: $2600
  • Kenya Safari for 2: Two people will enjoy 7 days/ 6 nights in the wilds of Kenya where the incredible Great Migration takes place. Inclusive of airport transfer, ground transportation, taxes, park entrance fees, and luxury accommodations. Includes one day city tour excursion while in Nairobi (Giraffe Center, Karen Blixen Museum, David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Kazuri Bead Factory). While in the Masai Mara, two safari game drives/day with your dedicated certified ranger, private driver and all meals —Accommodations will be at the following properties: Nairobi: Sarova Pan-Afric 2 nights B&B; Masai Mara: Mara Sopa Safari Lodge 4 nights Full Board Value:  $13,000    Opening Bid: $4450
  • Kenya Safari for 6: Same as the package for 2 people, but there is room for 6 people! Take the family, or get a group of friends together to bid on this vacation package.  Value: $30,000  Opening Bid: $9250
  • Zulu Nyala Diamond Safari for 2: 3 nights accommodations for two people at Zulu Nyala Country Manor (inclusive of breakfast and dinner) and day tours to Cullinan Diamond Mine and Gold Reef City to see actual mines plus a private diamond/gemstone consultation with the owners of Shaw Diamonds in the Fourways district of Johannesburg—the source of the diamond and gold industry! Then, 4 nights accommodations at Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge/Luxury Tented Safari Lodge in the Kwa Zulu Natal region of South Africa inclusive of all meals showcasing South African cuisine and two photo game drive safaris per day (morning and afternoon/evening) in an open land rover with experienced rangers. Luxury accommodations, cool lounges, stunning views, sparkling swimming pools, attentive African hospitality! Value: $6400 Opening Bid: $3000
  • Belly Dance Show for your Private Party: Looking for a unique addition to your next event? Treat your group to a traditional Middle Eastern dance show by Zamani Culture House. Includes: 1 Professional Dancer for a 20 minute performance, Family Friendly Show  Value: $300 Opening Bid: $100
  • 2 Hours with a Henna Artist: For your next celebration of any kind, holidays, private events, ethnic weddings, children’s parties, ceremonies, etc. Valid until January 1, 2015.  Value: $200   Opening Bid: $100
  • Persian Carpet Portrait of a Man: This is a very unique piece of art from Iran. Framed and ready to display in your home or gallery. Value: $4000   Opening Bid  $1000CarpetPortrait

We will also be having a silent auction and those items will be posted shortly.

Get your bidding strategy ready to implement! Get friends together and combine your bidding power for some of the larger items. All proceeds go to the Malki-SCM Children’s Center!