Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Volunteering with SAMS in Greece: Last days
Mark Boothroyd recently spent time volunteering with the Syrian American Medical Society team in Greece. You can read the start of his diary entries here, and the second part here.
28 May: Day five with SAMS Global Response
We found a spot further up the road and managed to get our tarp up to provide some shade for the patients.
There were a few sick kids with fevers, and adults with headaches and sore throats. Sprained ankles and sore knees from long treks, and a fair few blisters.
29 May: Day six with SAMS Global Response
Today I was made Team Leader of the Hara clinic, a somewhat rapid promotion which I wasn't expecting.
After reorganising the clinic van and a trip to pharmacy we drove out to Hara and set up where we had yesterday.
We were inundated when we set up and ended up seeing 60 patients in the first two hours. There was only one stab victim though, and his wound had been inflicted several days before. The pregnant women was just a little dehydrated and suffering from morning sickness, so was given rehydration salts and encouraged to drink.
A young guy from Damascus who had helped translate for his friend came and sat with us during a quiet period. He had been in Turkey for three years before deciding to come to Europe. He explained he had lost all his family early in the revolt, so he had absolutely no one left.
He kept asking why the EU didn't let in refugees. "Do they think we're terrorists?!" he said repeatedly in English and Arabic. His anger and frustration were palpable.
The guy had no sympathy for radical nihilistic groups, but how long would that last if he was kept in this situation for another two or three years? Another patient explained that Daesh had taken over his village in Syria, so if he went back he would either have to join them or be killed. If the EU wouldn't let him in, his only choice to have any sort of life would be to return to Syria and join Daesh in some way.
The situation of the refugees; oppressed, denied their rights and forced to live in inhumane conditions, is a fertile ground for alienation and radicalisation. A translator reported that a group of refugees were joking that they wished they were animals because maybe the Europeans would treat them better then.
Despite this depressing reality, there some who maintained their spirit. A woman who had damaged her feet walking for five days over the border, still laughed and joked at how fast her smuggler had run and the comical manner in which he was shouting at them to go faster.
If any Farsi or Urdu speakers want to come out to volunteer with SAMS, please get in touch via their website.
From SAMS Global Response in Greece to Idlib National Hospital in Syria.