Let’s stay woke for World Refugees

IMG_6803At first, he didn’t speak up, but I could tell he was listening in on my dilemma. I was trying to explain to a young Syrian mom how to administer the antibiotic to her sick child. My translator, a sweet Egyptian girl, was having trouble understanding my English and the Syrian mom was having trouble understanding her Arabic (as the two countries speak a different dialect). We were getting nowhere.

The man eventually leaned in and said, in perfect English, “Perhaps I could help?”

I was surprised to hear English from one of the refugees we were there to serve. I responded, “You speak English! Awesome! Can you translate for me?”

With tenderness and compassion, he easily explained to the Syrian mom exactly how to administer the medication. She thanked him profusely.

I asked him where he learned to speak English so well. He told me he was a physician. He studied in both England and Australia. He was here today, at our pop-up medical clinic, to get his own blood pressure medication. He had been unable to obtain any for many months and was concerned about his blood pressure

As I took his blood pressure, he went on to explain how helpless he felt living in the refugee camps. He wanted to help his fellow displaced Syrians, but he had no money, no access to medication, no credentials that would allow him to work in a Lebanese medical facility, and he had no medical equipment at all – not even his stethoscope. He told me he and his family fled like everyone else – in the middle of the night with the clothes on their backs and enough food for the journey. Period.

Refugee status is no respecter of age, gender, education, religion or background. If your country falls apart and you need to flee – you simply flee. There is no time to separate out the “haves” from the “have nots” when you are fleeing for your life. And now, everyone resides side-by-side in a make-shift village constructed from wood scraps and tarps. For seven years my physician friend has been in this refugee camp.

Seven years and waiting.

Today, I want to pause and re-feel the pain I felt that day. I want to remember the courage, the resilience and the perseverance that I saw in the faces of each and every Syrian refugee I met. I want to stand in solidarity with them and to do my part in this big mess to say, “WE WILL NOT FORGET YOU!”

I went to Lebanon with a team led by Dr. Lina Abujamra, a Lebanese ER physician who resides in Chicago and is the founder of Living With Power Ministries and shegiveshope.com.

Their work in Lebanon includes:

  • Medical and Dental clinics near the Syrian border and refugee camps (they have led 9 clinics so far, over 7,000 patients have been treated and $80,000 has been donated toward medications and treatments.
  • Food and community outreach programs (over 200 people are fed monthly)
  • Housing initiatives (the ministry has subsidized housing and living expenses for 20 families monthly.)
  • A nurses-aide training program for Syrians (the first training took place Feb-May 2019)
  • Helping to support educational programs for both school-aged kids and college students.
  • This July the ministry will run it’s first summer camp for Syrian refugee children.

WAYS YOU CAN HELP:

  • REMEMBER REFUGEES and PRAY FOR THEM. Just because the refugee crisis isn’t in the news every day doesn’t mean it is over. It’s actually getting worse. A refugee is defined as someone who has been forced to flee their home because of persecution, war or violence. Paul is in Honduras right now as I write. He is experiencing firsthand accounts of why people are flooding out of Honduras. Trust me – they classify as REFUGEES!
  • STAY INFORMED. Pay attention to the news and use your influence to spread the word about refugee-related issues. Amidst growing anti-refugee rhetoric and policies, it’s never been more critical to stay informed and speak out!
  • FINANCIALLY SUPPORT organizations who are supporting refugees locally, nationally, and globally. You can get AWESOME merch (like the shirt I’m wearing in the pic) here at: http://shegiveshope.com/.
    You can support the work of Lina’s teams at https://www.livingwithpower.org/global/

    And another fantastic organization that Paul and I support is:
    Preemptive Love Coalition

    Or if you want to give locally in the West Michigan area here are three great organizations:
    Tree Tops Collective
    Samaritas
    Bethany Christian Services

  • GO WITH ME TO LEBANON!!! I’m dead serious. If my health allows (which seems to wax and wane), I plan to go back to Lebanon and serve with the Medical team. If you’re interested (whether you have a medical background or not), let me know!But I must warn you, it will change your life.

4 thoughts on “Let’s stay woke for World Refugees

    1. The teams are going four times a year – the next trip is this fall and again in winter. I’m inclined to wait until their spring trip, actually. If it aligns with your spring break, are you in with me??? Let’s do this!!!

    1. That would be awesome, Heather! The team often needs medical providers! The two dentists that go are fairly “inked in”, and nurses and support staff aren’t so hard to find, but I know the teams usually need additional providers – so they would definitely take you! Let’s talk.

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