Monthly Archives: June 2013

Day 4: Clinic at Akilah Hospital, Amman, Jordan

Today was interesting.  Saba, Hamza and myself went to the Akilah hospital with medicines donated by Health Partners International Canada and about 40 packs of crayons, 10 sketch pads and 5 soccer balls.  There were three children admitted still at the hospital.  I did a pediatrics clinic in the hospital’s out-patient department.  The hospital’s top 2 floors are rented by the Syrian Relief and Development (please visit: http://syriareliefanddevelopment.org/tag/akilah-hospital/ for details).  This hospital is very well run and only treats Syrian refugees and is staffed by 10 Syrian physicians – general and orthopedic surgeons, gynecologists, urologists and internal medicine specialists.

Before starting the clinic, we visited young Faris, admitted about a week ago with compound fracture and severe traumatic flesh wound of his right arm with exposed bone from a bomb.  He had undergone a skin graft to help repair the 12-inch gaping flesh wound that had gone down to his bone.  His dad showed us a video of the original wound.  We visited him again and presented him with a soccer ball, a pack of crayola crayons and a sketch pad which was just able to bring a soft smile on his face.  The brutality and horror this young little guy witnessed and experienced was vividly apparent just looking into his haunting eyes.

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Young Faris. The trauma he has witnessed and experienced can be vividly seen in his eyes. He had a skin graft recently – from skin taken from his right medial thigh to repair the gaping 12″ wound in his right arm. We gave this little boy a soccer ball, some crayons and a sketch pad which was just able to bring a smile to his grim face.

The clinic went surprisingly well.  I was assisted by Dr. Mahmoud Asad, a general surgeon, who was kind enough to help translate for me.  I saw the following kinds of cases:

  • 13-month old with severe otitis media with rupture of tympanic membrane
  • 15-month old child with developmental delay – unable to walk but able to stand, otherwise well child
  • 12 year old boy suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – complaining of 5 month history of “breathing problems” since witnessing his dad get gunned down in front of his eyes by Syrian regime soldiers.
  • 14-year old boy developing a hereditary paralyzing neurological disorder of his lower limbs – presenting with pain and dysesthesia in his left lower foot, same presentation as his two older sisters who are now paralyzed.  Very poor prognosis.
  • 8 year old with soft tissue injury of lateral left leg – struck by a stick by another child
  • Twin 4-year-old girls with Hepatitis A and jaundice.
  • Several children with viral illnesses
  • 1 child 8 years old with asthma
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12-year old boy with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This poor young man complained of “breathing problems” for the past five months dating back to when he witnessed his dad get brutally gunned down by Syrian regime forces.

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Left to right: Dr. Raza Khan – Help4Syria Project Leader, Dr. Mahmoud Asad-General Surgeon, Dr. Yaseen Abu-Yahyah-Internal Medicine, and Dr. Nasser-psychiatrist.

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Dr. Raza Khan assessing boy with right leg pain and limp – Akilah Hospital, Amman, Jordan.

All remaining medications were left with Akilah Hospital who will distribute the medications free of charge to Syrians presenting to the out-patient clinic.

This is our last posting from the field for this project.

Once again we wish to take this opportunity to thank our donors and supporters for their generous donations – over $116,000 were raised for this project.  A full and complete project report (including financials on how these funds were spent) will be issued by Islamic Relief Jordan around the end of September.

As this is an ongoing humanitarian disaster, please consider donating on an ongoing basis for the Syrian people.

Pictures drawn by Syrian boys – Irbid, Jordan.

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Tanks and helicopter gunships and shooting.

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Missiles hitting a home and tank with tanks surrounding them. This child indicated killed persons with an ‘X’ and the Arabic word “maut” written above them. Note the missiles hitting the minaret of the mosque, toppling it over.

Helicopter gun ships.

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Different images of people fighting and shooting weapons.

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“Freedom”

 

Day 3: Distribution in Ramtha

Very nice day today.  Traveled to site in Ramtha, 2km south of the Syrian border.  Hard to believe that such chaos is happening so close by.  Indeed, the locals state that occasionally stray shells from across the border hit areas of this small town.  Islamic Relief has allocated 845 hygiene packs here with 200-250 being distributed each day for 4 days.

Saba, Hamza and Yusra participated in the distribution and handed out the remainder of the 60 lbs of Crest toothpaste donated by dentist, Dr. Colin Day in Dundas, and Dr. Leah Van Allen, dentist in Brantford (see pictures below).  The remainder of the Crayola pencil crayons were also distributed with lots of smiles from kids and moms.

Tomorrow, I will do a clinic at Akhila Hospital in Amman, taking care of 25 seriously injured Syrians, including 8 children.  Saba and Hamza will perform brief interviews and take photos of the admitted children and document how they ended up coming to the hospital in Jordan from their homes in Syria.  It is sad how in our newspapers we only read about the stats – such as the number of Syrians killed or the number of Syrians who crossed the border as refugees.  Through this project we want to sit down and speak to these unfortunate youngsters and put a face and a story to each one.

Stay tuned.  Photos below.  Once again, thank you for your support.  The Syrians who hear that this help is coming from Canadians express their deepest gratitude and thanks.  God bless.

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A few of some of the 445 hygiene kits being distributed at the IR distribution center in Ramtha, Jordan, just 2km south of the Syrian border. To the left are toothpaste and toothbrush packs prepared by our young volunteers.

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Young boy with Crayola colored pencils, toothpaste and toothbrush distributed by Help4Syria project team.

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Mazher Latif (left) and Raza Khan in the courtyard of the IR distribution center in Ramtha, Jordan, just 2km south of the Syrian border.

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Young Syrian boy waiting for his mother – Ramtha, Jordan.

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Syrian refugees cue up for distribution of hygiene packs. IR protocol states that beneficiaries should not stand in sunshine or to receive their hygiene packs for more than 10 minutes. Ramtha, Jordan.

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Young Syrian boy with donated colored pencils, toothpaste and toothbrush.

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Happy young boys at distribution center – Ramtha, Jordan.

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Happy young Syrian child with colored pencils donated by the Help4Syria team.

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Elderly woman carries her hygiene pack from the distribution center. Ramtha, Jordan.

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To see a smile on these children’s faces is a great feeling.

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Young Syrian child receives a toothbrush. It was her favourite color.

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Help4Syria project team members distribute donated toothbrushes.

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Distributing toothbrushes – Ramtha, Jordan.

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Happy young children with their toothbrushes.

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Distribution of toothpaste, Ramtha, Jordan.

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Distribution of toothpaste to children – Ramtha, Jordan.

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Yusra Latif, Help4Syria Project volunteer moving hygiene packs into the cue.

 

Day 2: Distribution in Irbid

Today was a great day.  Our team first met up with Sr. Olivia Perez from the Islamic Relief office, then traveled again to Irbid where we continued distribution from yesterday of Hygiene Kits.  In addition, we took the toothbrushes, toothpaste, crayons and sketch pads and coordinated distribution of these as well.  The highlight were the soccer balls – 15 of them were distributed here.  You should have seen the curiosity and smiles of the young ones as they watched us setting up and sorting through the items.  The smiles of the children receiving the soccer balls was priceless, given the suffering and misery they have endured.

These youngsters have indeed seen much horror.  Hamza Khan conducted art therapy with the children, asking them to draw “something about their life in Syria”.  One young man drew in stark detail 2 missiles hitting his home and tanks with stick men indicating dead people.  This boy could not have been more than 10 years old and had such a solemn look on his face as he drew.  I didn’t see him smiling very much.  We took a video of him explaining what he had drawn.

After the morning distribution was completed, we traveled to a small town of Ramtha, just 2 km from the Syrian border.  Here was a small town where a Islamic Relief social worker took us to visit two families staying in rented flats in the town.  The first lady had five children and her husband is off fighting with the FSA.  They lived in a simple large room with a sink and small hot plate to cook their meals.  We brought a gift bag for the family consisting of a soccer ball (a big hit with the kids!), sketch pads, pencil crayons and some clothing.  The second family had twelve family members living in a small one bedroom apartment.  They were just scraping by to make ends meet, with assistance of the WFP food vouchers.  When asked what was their greatest need, they stated that sweaters and warm coats were required as the winters in northern Jordan and Syria are very cold with no heating in the shelters.

Tomorrow we continue distribution at Ramtha.  Photographs of today’s distribution follow.

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Excited children at flat visited today by Help4Syria Project team busily go through a gift bag given to them.

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This young Syrian boy drew a haunting picture of tanks, guns and dead soldiers when asked to draw a picture of “Life in Syria”. Nearly $1,000 worth of sketch pads, crayons and pencil crayons were purchased for the children.

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This young boy very busily and quickly drew a picture of FSA soldiers with the heading “Freedom”.

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This young boy who seemed far too mature for his age drew a home with two missiles hitting it.

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Young boy intensely and meticulously draws home with missiles hitting it showing dead people outside. A significant amount of psychological trauma exists in the children who have witnessed brutal acts of violence against their family members.

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Boy draws picture of helicopter gunship and buildings being hit.

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Young boy proudly carries soccer ball given to him by Help4Syria Project team.

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Children are excited and happy when they see Help4Syria Project team sorting crayon packets, sketch pads and soccer balls.

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Young Syrian boy proudly stands with his soccer ball.

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Young, very happy boy poses with his new soccer ball.

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Syrian children wait with excited anticipation as their new soccer ball is inflated by a Help4Syria team member.

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Being able to express themselves in drawings brought a smile upon many of the children.

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Young boys draw pictures of their life in Syria.

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Young boys get instructions to draw their “life in Syria” as part of an “Art Therapy” exercise by the Help4Syria Project team.

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Help4Syria project team busy at work sorting crayons, sketch pads, toothbrushes and toothpaste at distribution in Irbid, Jordan.

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Hamza Khan hard at work sorting the crayon packets for distribution to Syrian children.

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Help4Syria Project team hard at work preparing packages of toothpaste, toothbrushes, crayons and sketch pads for Syrian children.

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Hard at work in distribution.

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Boy draws picture of what he has witnessed in Syria.

 

 

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Day 1: Getting bearings and distribution of Hygiene Kits

Help4Syria Project Team members get briefing on the project by Islamic Relief Jordan staff.

Help4Syria Project Team members get briefing on the project by Islamic Relief Jordan staff.

Today was quite eventful.  We started the day at Islamic Relief Jordan’s office here in Amman.  We met with Jayyousi Ruba and Acting Country Director Sharar Mahyub.  Project details and final week’s agenda were discussed.

 

 

 

 

Driving north to Irbid, about 70km north of Amman and about 50km south of the Syrian border.

Driving north to Irbid, about 70km north of Amman and about 50km south of the Syrian border.

Irbid, in northwestern Jordan, 50km south of the Syrian border, was selected by Islamic Relief Jordan as this project site was an area that was being significantly under serviced (if not mostly ignored) by NGOs.  Indeed, after Zaatari camp, Irbid is the second largest area in Jordan where Syrian refugees are moving to.  UNICEF is managing the Zaatari camp and most NGOs were conducting projects there.  As of May 2013, UNHCR reports 65,835 refugees in Irbid.

Relief items included in the 3,045 hygiene packs purchased with the $116,000 raised.  Distribution will be completed by July 7, 2013 - in time for Ramadan.

Relief items included in the 3,045 hygiene packs purchased with the $116,000 raised. Distribution will be completed by July 7, 2013 – in time for Ramadan.

With the $116,000 raised by Help4Syria Project, a total of 3,045 hygiene kits were put together by through tender by a local company and quality control conducted by Islamic Relief Jordan’s Procurement Committee.  Islamic Relief has identified that hygiene items are in significant need.  These kits consist of two months worth of the following items:

  • Baby diapers
  • Shampoo bottle
  • Soap bars
  • Ladies sanitary items
  • Clorox bleach (1 L)
  • Laundry detergent packets
  • Dish washing liquid
  • Facial tissue packets
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Dish washing sponge

These items can be seen in the attached photo.

Project team - Huwara, Irbid, Jordan.

Project team – Huwara, Irbid, Jordan. Far right – Sharar Mahyub, acting Country Manager, Islamic Relief Jordan.

Project started May 15 with tendering and procurement and the actual distribution began June 12.  Distribution will be completed by July 7, 2013 – just in time for Ramadan.

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Team members stand in front of a sample of the items purchased for the Hygiene Packs. Islamic Relief staff person (left) serves as the monitor for the project implementation.

What impressed me was that Islamic Relief has internal monitoring to ensure distribution occurs efficiently and fairly so that the beneficiaries do not have to wait more than 10 minutes to get their items and that there are no long line ups.

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In front of Akilah Hospital in Amman, Jordan. Dr. Suray Bakkar, Regional Manger (in green shirt) oversees the operation. 25 out of 28 beds are occupied. There are ten doctors (all Syrian) working at the hospital including orthopedic surgeons, gynecologists, urologists and internists.

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Woman who was traveling in car with family members hit by missile, killing all occupants of the vehicle except her and her daughter (in red). Her daughter received minor injuries from shrapnel and suffers from psychological trauma.

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Young Syrian boy who sustained a shattered radius fracture resulting from gun shot.

We then returned to Amman to tour the Akila Hospital.  The Syrian Development Fund is a US-based NGO that has an on-going project to rent out the top two floors of this private hospital to treat Syrian refugees coming in.  There are 28 beds and at the time we visited, 25 were admitted.  The hospital is staffed by Syrian orthopedic surgeons, gynecologists, urologists and internal medicine specialists.  They treat Syrian refugees free of charge, including medicines.  The Syrians arrive at the border with Jordan and then are transferred by police and/or other locals to the Akila hospital.  The stories of the inpatients are horrific – including a young 27-year-old woman, 8 months pregnant butted in the back of her neck leaving her paralyzed.  Baby needed to be delivered by c-section and is doing well.  Mom has horrific muscle wasting of her limbs and suffers from bed sores.  Another woman (see photo) was traveling in a car in Syria with family members when their vehicle was hit by a missile (? RPG).  All occupants in the car except her and 1 daughter were killed.  Right side of her face was injured with heat and shrapnel and her left arm sustained a complex comminuted fracture.  Her young daughter fortunately received minor injuries.  Another elderly man lay in one of the orthopedic beds with a fractured arm resulting from a hit from a sniper.  He was lucky to be alive.  A common tactic by these snipers is to intentionally wound a person and then shoot to kill those who come to the injured person’s aid.

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This young boy’s father was hit by gunfire and sustained a complex fracture to a vertebra leaving him partially paralyzed. When we arrived at Akilah Hospital we watched the young boy pushing his dad up the ramp in his wheelchair to his hospital room.

I will be doing a clinic there on Thursday.

Please keep checking our blog for more exciting updates.

 

We are in Jordan…

We arrived today in Amman, Jordan after a smooth flight.  We will meet with Islamic Relief in the morning and get a briefing on the weeks activities.  It was surprising to pass by the Syrian embassy in Amman with about 50-60 Syrian refugees standing outside. We will begin hygiene kit distribution tomorrow afternoon.  Further details will be provided later.

We brought our 20 soccer balls, toothbrushes (many donated by Dr. Leah Van Allen, dentist in Brantford, Ontario – thanks Leah!) and toothpaste (60 lbs) kindly donated by Dr. Colin Day, dentist in Dundas, Ontario.  We also had no problems getting the Physician Travel Pack (PTP) into Jordan (supplied by Quebec-based Health Partners International of Canada) – thanks Claudia for your help with this.

Stay tuned for our update tomorrow as we spend our first day in the field.

On a great note, we have surpassed the $116,000 mark in fundraising.  This is an on-going disaster.  Please consider donating regularly to the project through Help4Syria.ca or IslamicReliefCanada.org.

Help4Syria Project Team.