Millions have been forced to risk their lives to escape conflict, poverty and destruction, and the situation is still critical for those in Syria, more than eight years after the civil war first began. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, while an estimated 13 million people still need humanitarian aid.
One Family is actively supporting three key partners with its Refugee Fund, which have each been chosen to bring maximum positive impact to people’s lives. Search and rescue for civilians who continue to seek safety after their migration across dangerous seas. Counselling for children who suffer from mental health issues and trauma as a result of war or displacement Thirdly, life-changing prosthetics to innocent civilians who have lost limbs during the ongoing conflict.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Refugee Rescue were first founded in response to the inadequate search and rescue provision after 2015, when thousands of displaced people began arriving on Lesvos. Based on the island’s north shores, the rescue team use a specialist ex-RNLI speedboat to quickly reach those in peril.
Syrian refugees experience all kinds of trauma due to the brutality of war and the uncertainty of migration and resettlement. Currently, four million of Syria’s 5.6 million displaced people reside in Turkey, but their troubles are far from over. Many have been separated from their families, and are vulnerable to crimes such as robbery, torture and violence.
Last year, a World Health Organisation report found that 86,000 Syrians had suffered wounds leading to amputation…
But this figure is likely to be significantly higher as many people remain confined to their homes after their injuries. The extreme lack of functioning hospitals and medics still in the country has further increased the need for amputation, pushing up demand for a limited number of prosthetics. In neighbouring countries, up to 90 per cent of refugees live below the poverty line, so paying for prosthetics is often out of the question.
Rayan was just five years old when she lost both legs following a car bomb in Zamalka, Syria. She suffered severe bone and nerve damage as well as horrific injuries to her abdomen and lower back. Both legs had to be amputated to save her life, and she spent two months in intensive care.Rayan also suffered severe psychological wounds that led her pull out her hair and self-harm. In a further cruel twist, an airstrike overhead caused more problems when rubble fell on her. Eventually, she and her father left Syria and arrived in Turkey where she underwent a series of treatments. While adapting to life with two prosthetic legs, Rayan will need further plastic surgery on her abdomen in future, as well as continuing therapy. Meanwhile, five years on, her father’s only wish is for his daughter regain happiness and live like others her age.
Six-year-old Mohamed was collecting firewood with his father in Darkush, Syria, when a stray bullet struck his leg. Mohamed recalls: “I could see blood dripping down my leg and bones – the skin had disappeared. My leg felt like it was on fire. I shouted for my father and tried to run to him. The next thing I remember I was in hospital and my leg was gone.” After his leg was amputated, Mohamed was transferred to a hospital in Turkey where he received a prosthetic limb. Although he suffered severe psychological trauma, he is currently receiving vital rehabilitation, and is adapting well to living with a prosthetic leg. Mohamed now plans to train as a doctor when he is older so he can help others like himself.
Seven-year-old Leena was forced to flee Damascus with her family in 2017 when the war became too dangerous to remain at home. Their trip was long and arduous, and when they eventually reached Balat in Turkey, Leena’s mother noticed deep-rooted mental and emotional problems in her daughter – including difficulty sleeping, nightmares about monsters, headaches and extreme anxiety. Her reaction to the trauma she had encountered also saw her regularly scratching her face and behaving aggressively, while she was also afraid of being kidnapped. As a result, Leena’s mother registered her at Balat’s Maya Vakfi centre. During group therapy sessions, she was encouraged to begin expressing her fears and worries. The program also involved her making sculptures of the monster she was most terrified of, and before long, she began to turn a corner. Instead of being afraid, her carefully crafted monster became her friend and protector at night. The nightmares stopped and Leena’s other symptoms also eased, meaning she can once again enjoy her childhood.