Your 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.
We 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.
During 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.
The 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.
~Rita Zawaideh, President of SCM