On mother’s day in the Middle East (March 21) the kids at the Malki/SCM Children’s Center did a play and sang songs for their mothers. We did this again after the medical mission group of volunteers arrived in Jordan and took them to the Center.
To see these kids after a couple of months and how they have changed and the smiles on their faces and the laughter made most of the group cry. It is something that we hope that we can do more of. The Malki/SCM Center is a pilot project to provide services for the refugee children that we started and it is successful so far so we are hoping to be able to open another one in a different city in Jordan.
After a couple of hours in the Center the group split into vans and went to the different centers in Jordan that the Jordan Women’s Union has given us permission to use. We are partnering with them on these missions, and we hope to continue.
We spent the day in Deir Alaa which has a group of camps located on the way to Salt where there are about 100 to 200 people in each camp. They are Syrians that have come from different cities inside of Syria and did not want to stay in Zaateri. They are mostly from either Hama or Homs and wanted to be with their neighbors, friends, and family from the same place. They feel more secure that way, and don’t have to worry about the security of their wives, daughters or themselves. They decided that they wanted to take care of themselves and work the fields in this area. They were given tents from UNRWA and some vouchers to help with food, but it’s not much. We come to these camps each time we are in Jordan, but more seem to be springing up.
The group goes in about 4 vans and 7 people to a van- we set up in the tent, organizing a pharmacy, OBGYN area, family practice, dentist and a dermatological group. We then set up a humanitarian tent where we distribute the clothes, shoes, school supplies and games for the children. The humanitarians play games with the kids, sing songs, and dance if the mood strikes them. The group did a fabulous job with the children. But you could see the difference between these kids and the kids at the Malki/SCM Center. The children in Deir Alaa really needed clothes, shoes, and general medical care. They were so eager to play and talk to the doctors and others with us, and they wanted to share their stories through the translators. Each story was harder and harder to hear from these young people.
We hope that one day on these missions we can get social workers to come and talk to them and help them try and forget and look forward to a new life. They want to go home, but they do not see anything in the future that will allow them to do that. They hear from others of what is happening in the Zaateri Camp and how people are establishing themselves with stores, schools and it is looking more and more like an established city, becoming a permanent home, that it scares them and think that they might not go back to Syria.
For the last couple of missions we have had dentists come in with us and they are doing some incredible work in the strangest locations and making do with what they have. It takes then about 45 minutes to set up – they bring with them a generator, lawn chairs (for the patients to lay on) and their own supply of water and instruments. One of the first dentist with us on a mission was Hazar Jaber and her husband, she thought of the idea of a pressure cooker to sterilize the equipment and we have been using it ever since. The dentists provide normal care as well as extractions, cleaning and other preventive care. They have the humanitarians show the patients how to clean their teeth, brush them and floss. We have brushes for everyone and toothpaste etc that are left at the camp. This should last them until the next mission, we hope.
The dentists have never done anything like this but it is working out very well and it is fabulous to see them working. Other people on the mission that are nurses and other specialized physicians have jumped in and helped the dental team when it is needed and they are learning another dimension of the health care system. It is like one doctor said we go to medical school and we learn our trade, but we really do not know what someone else does in the medical field – here they are sharing their knowledge. I am so proud to have these professional join our group and know that they will go back to their own practices, communities, and families and tell them what it was like and what the Syrian people need, and what we need to help them.
~Rita Zawaideh, President of SCM