Visiting the Syria-Lebanon Border Camps

"As I sat on my plane journey home, I wanted to reflect on the journey I have just made to visit the communities in the Syrian border camps.

Two new doctors, Dr.Sidrah and Dr.Sobia joined the cause and accompanied me to an area that can be notoriously difficult to reach. As UK trained GPs their experience was incredibly helpful.

With your swift and generous response to a call for donations, we managed to respond to the various needs of medication as well as handing zakat and sadaqa directly to hands of the needy.

As we visited tent by tent, the health needs in particular were overwhelming. It seems that when things get tough, the first thing that gets neglected are the mothers and their needs - they'd even stopped taking vital medications. One pregnant woman could not afford her folic acid that was on a paper prescription.

Another mother, Umm Qasim, is a diabetic with high blood pressure and is losing her eyesight. Her blood pressure was dangerously high and she must take lifelong medication, which she can’t afford. Her 15-year-old son ran to me with a bleeding toe and asked if I could get him some new shoes. He has been wearing womens' shoes, which are too tight, so he mostly walks barefoot.

I also met a widow and mother of eight whose eldest son, 20 year old Khaled, has not been able to work due to a poorly healed fracture that will need further surgery costing £400. These families all received some much needed zakat.

I finally visited a family I'd been told about, who have several children affected by a genetic condition called Friedrichs Ataxia. This affects their ability to walk and even stand without being unsteady. The 20 year old daughter is also affected, and recently her husband divorced her and left her with two young toddlers whom she will have to care for alone and with the help of her already burdened mother. I noted that the family are being seen by multiple physicians and having a number of inappropriate tests and and diagnoses made. They need the support of highly specialised doctors and physiotherapists.

The bottom line is they should not be living in a camp on the slope of a mountain. Not them, not Karam with haemophilia, not Umm Eesa who is almost blind with diabetes and not Ayat, recovering from major surgery.

Any help given seems like a drop in the ocean of need. However, seven years ago, Allah showed me that the most important part of this kind of work is the intention to help, and perseverance when things get tough - something that cannot be taught in schools or universities.

It is encouraging that other doctors and also joining this movement to visit and serve in these hidden communities, for free, risking the type of travel needed to get to these locations, sacrificing all modern comforts, and giving the long term doctors a well deserved break.

I write this with much gratitude to all who have donated and to affirm that our intention is to continue to help. Keep all people who are suffering in your prayers. I promise they keep each and every one of us in theirs."

- Dr Siyana Mahroof-Shaffi

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