refugee crisis

Alan Kurdi, one of thousands of innocent lives lost in this crisis. His family has requested that this photo be used instead of the drowning one. This little boy sparked a fire under us when we became complacent about the atrocities in Syria and the current refugee crisis. Let’s not let the fire go out without doing anything to help the victims.

“You have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” 
 Home, Warsan Shire

Enough is enough. Seriously, how is any of this real? I don’t understand how such atrocities can exist in this world for years on end and somehow the world keeps on spinning. I wish it didn’t. I wish it would just stop for a second so we could all be jerked awake to the many, many injustices that exist in this world. So that babies wouldn’t have to wash up on the shore for us to realize what’s going on. So fathers wouldn’t have to sell ballpoint pens on streets to make money to feed his family.

We’re here in a world where we’re refusing to let other human beings enter our land while they run from an oppressor. While they fight to stay alive and find a better life for their families. While they’re caught in the middle of a war they may have never wanted. While they fought for freedoms we’re constantly getting on our soapbox and preaching. The Syrian conflict is about as complicated as it comes. The Guardian has a thread that they’ve been updating regularly since the most recent developments of the refugee crisis and the Vox has a decent summary on the crisis until now and also details the major issues associated with the refugee crisis and lack of available resources.

I’m going to be perfectly honest here, I definitely do not know enough about this conflict. Before starting medical school, I made a commitment to myself to continue staying aware of what’s going in the world. So often I’ve seen people in health care be content with their contribution to the world by ‘saving lives’ and that’s the end of it. So many of them are unaware of the struggles their local communities are facing, much less the world at large. I think being an advocate and an activist is an integral part of being physician. I’m sure that there are people out there who would disagree with me and that’s fine. But that’s what it means to me.

So despite not knowing everything I should know about the Syrian crisis, I know that they need help. And as a future health care professional, I see every humanitarian crisis from a medical perspective. And all I see when I read about/see pictures from or anything to do with the crisis is think of all the people who need access to health care. All the people who were victim to the chemical attacks, all the children who likely have PTSD from the trauma in their world for the past four years. I think about the extreme shortage of health care professionals in Syria right now and the intense need they’re facing. And I feel completely helpless because I’m not a doctor yet. I can’t hop on a plane and help these people. But there are things that I can and will do. And I really hope you do something too.

ACTION ITEMS

  • Learn – Of course every source we read is going to have its biases but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to educate ourselves about what’s going on in the world. A simple search of ‘summary of syrian revolution‘ comes up with thousands of hits. Pick a few and read on!
  • Raise Awareness – Whether it be by sharing this post or simply talking to those around you, spread awareness. We all spend so much of our lives going from one task to the next and it’s so easy to forget about the whole world out there. So talk to your classmates, coworkers, family, etc. about what’s going on and try to raise awareness.
  • Sign the Petition – Here’s a link to a petition to the White House to resettle at least 65,000 Syrian refugees in the United States by 2016. We’re almost half way there! If you don’t live in the US, find other means of demanding that your government aid the refugees. Germany and a few other countries have been making strides towards this.
  • Donate – Here’s a link to SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) Foundation. This organization has been working tirelessly since the beginnings of this struggle. I’ve talked to people very knowledgeable about aid organizations and this is one that they trust. As someone who is very passionate about working to end injustices in healthcare, the mission of this organization really resonates with me. The services they have provided and continue to provide include: field and referral hospitals, trauma facilities, dental clinics, psychosocial centers, healthcare professional salaries, medical trainings, hospital fuel programs, medical supplies and medications, dialysis program, intensive care unit and primary care services. The organization has also been working with the US government to encourage policy to help the victims of this war. Any little bit helps. Write Jillian York has compiled a list of reliable organizations that work specifically with the refugee populations here.
  • Pray and reflect – The world is full of injustices. It’s an unfortunate truth but it is the truth. So figure out which injustice makes you the angriest and fight like hell to make it disappear. For me, it’s injustices in health care. And some days it’s really hard for me to remember why I’m doing all this and then something like this happens and I remember. I remember that in a few years, instead of feeling helpless and only being able to give money, I’ll actually have the skills to help people. Be grateful for the life you live. Be grateful for the people in it that push you to be your best self every day. And remember that your purpose in the world should always include making the lives of others better, in one way or another.

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