Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Aid, Healthcare and Hope

Medical charity is rolling out dozens of local aid projects.
By Mustafa al-Jalal
  • The surgical hospital in al-Sham set up by the Syria Relief and Development organisation. (Photo: Obeida al-Taraf)
    The surgical hospital in al-Sham set up by the Syria Relief and Development organisation. (Photo: Obeida al-Taraf)

Hundreds of people in Idlib and Aleppo provinces are accessing medical treatment and training thanks to the efforts of the Syria for Relief and Development organisation (SRD), a group established in late 2012 in liberated areas inside Syria.

Akaba Aldaghim, the director of SRD’s northern bureau, explained how their work was having both a short and long-term impact on local healthcare.

“Our first project was in the town of Haas in the southern countryside of Idlib and still serves the people,” he said. This was followed by the establishment of the al-Ferdaous and Baghdad surgical hospitals in Darat Izza and the Aleppo countryside respectively. The bureau then opened Mary’s hospital for children and women in Kafr Nabl in mid-June 2016.

“The organisation also equipped 21 ambulances which are working around the clock, eight of which are equipped with intensive care facilities and the rest used for evacuation in collaboration with the Qatar Red Crescent organisation,” the 30-year-old explained.

Aldaghim continued, “The organisation’s activities are mainly medical, such as the establishment of hospitals and medical centres in areas where the northern Syrian bureau works in the liberated areas of the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib.

“Twelve health centres were developed  in villages and towns in the liberated areas of Aleppo and Idlib. These centres have mobile teams which go on a daily basis to remote villages in need of health care. These mobile clinics are also equipped with all kinds of medicines, especially for gynecological conditions.”

Each group was made up of a midwife, a psychologist, two nurses, someone to take notes and a driver.

“A special laboratory was equipped to detect and treat leishmaniasis, in collaboration with the Mentor organisation. A physiotherapy centre was also set up in Jarjnaz in early 2013 as well as a kidney dialysis centre,” Aldaghim explained.

Future projects will include a radiology centre in Kafr Nabl equipped with a CT scan, an X-ray, and an echo device.

The organisations had aims that went beyond immediate medical assistance, he added.

“In addition to the bureau’s emergency relief activities to alleviate the suffering of Syrians, especially displaced people, we give them hope through training and rehabilitation centres.”

Khalid al-Daif, director of the Kafr Nabl centre, said that more than 300 people had been trained in around 14 courses that included psychological support, counselling, communication skills, retraining for teachers, and nursing.

All services were free and offered to anyone in the community.

The 47-year-old continued, “The centre includes five administrators and four mobile teams of 16 people who can carry out psychological studies, needs assessments, provide psychological support and some recreational activities for children in addition to various awareness-raising seminars.

“The centre also supervises the work of family planning teams as well as psychological and medical counselling for women from the beginning of pregnancy until delivery. These centres also organise special seminars for children and services for addressing gender-based violence.”

Graduates of the training schemes can go on to find work, including in the healthcare sector.

Noor, 22, is delighted to have found work at an SRD hospital after taking a number of courses at the centre.

“At first I could not believe that I would be signing a contract as a result of taking courses at the rehabilitation and training centre, but when I saw the document in front of me I started shaking and signed it immediately,” she said.

SRD also provides practical assistance to displaced people and families whose homes have been damaged in bombing.

Aldaghim said that their most important relief work had been carried out in the villages of Kafr Nabl, Hass, Jarjnaz and Maar Tahroma in the southern countryside of Idlib. Some 540 families had benefited from these efforts, he added.

His organisation helped repair some partially destroyed houses and provided all residents with aid packages containing kitchen utensils and solar energy panels for lighting.

Families in particular need also received a heater and fuel supplies. Building materials such as cement, rope, wood and shovels were also given out to help people mend damage to their homes.

Local resident Mahmoud, 77, said that the grant he received had been very useful.

“The organisation gave me a good fireplace and about a tonne of coal and half a tonne of wood,  in addition to a basket containing various kitchen utilities and utensils.”

“The organisation continues to provide the same services and relief baskets to about 500 families affected by bombing in Binnish and Maarrat Misrin in the northern Idlib countryside,” Aldaghim said, adding that they also provided emergency assistance to people displaced from their homes under their Emergency Response Project.

The SRD also benefited from it good working relationships with all other groups on the ground, Aldaghim concluded.

“There is cooperation between our organisation and all local councils in all the activities and services we provide and we interact with everyone because we are all working toward one goal, which is returning hope to all citizens affected by this war, to compensate and work with them to implement projects that are in their best interest.”