Saturday, November 24, 2012

11.22.12 Visit to second SWS office & rehabilitation center

We met two physicians at the second Syrian Women’s Society center who talked more of the needs of Syrian refugees living in Amman.

The SWS tries to supply the cost of rent - about 200 JD ($280) a month for a basic one bedroom apartment,  blankets, carpets, pillows, electric heaters and clothing to recent arrivals.
At least 4,000 families need blankets and electric heaters as of today. On a daily basis people knock on the door asking for them.

Two Saudi gentlemen entered the office while we were talking. We were introduced and were told they are individuals not affiliated with any group who are volunteering to set up a prosthetics factory in Turkey. Unfortunately there are many civilians who have lost legs and arms and the cost to send someone to Europe or the States for prosthetics is prohibitively expensive so they came up with this financially feasible option. They are in partnership with a Pakastani doctor who is famous for his work on prosthetics and as soon as the factory is underway they will be able to produce a leg prosthetic, for example, for approximately 35JD ($49) – much cheaper than travel for the same product.

Next we met with Dr. Ahmad Al-Terkawi. He oversees the second rehabilitation center where injured Free Syrian Army fighters and male civilians recuperate after being released from the hospital.  They are given physical and psychological therapy. Humiliation and torture are so common psychological treatment is critical.

After our meeting as we were getting ready to head out to the second facility, the Saudi gentlemen came to us with Saudi fig treats and coffee. They were very excited to share with us and it was delicious!

We then traveled to the rehab center which is a huge building with three occupied floors and the fourth under construction. The first two floors house 39 patients and the third floor is housing for the cook and manager.  Since the building is nearly full they are searching for a second building so as to treat more injured.

Dr. Al-Terkawi is the in the process of requesting desperately needed supplies such as:
-          Wheel chairs
-          Crutches
-          Hospital Beds
-          Specialized beds for paralyzed  (cost for each is 1,000JD or $1400)
-          Medicine

Dr. Al-Terkawi went on to explain that he is strict with his patients because when they are healed enough they either have to find a job or return to Syria. He’s working on establishing additional training opportunities so they will have new job skills – particularly for those with physical limitations that can no longer perform the jobs they were doing before injured.  He said that the Syrian regime is very controlling. They tried to keep many from getting a proper education to keep them down.  At the moment tutors are working with the patients on basic skills such as language, computer use, etc.  These educational services will be expanded soon.  By being strict and insisting on education he wants patients to not get accustomed to being supported. They are working with all so that they can become self-sufficient and productive.

Approximately ten patients welcomed us at the rehab center.  Many spoke. The overarching position expressed was that the world has abandoned the Syrian people for nearly two years. The largest most powerful country in the world – the US – has been painfully absent. 

The FSA is getting stronger and said they do not want ground troops from foreign nations. They will finish this war by themselves and do not want foreigners to jump in at the end of the conflict and pretend that they had helped all along.  They did say that the main assistance that they would appreciate from the international community is the establishment of a no fly zone over Syria.  Syrians are patient and persevering, we were told, and this conflict will have a positive ending.

One soldier said ‘I won’t blame you if you don’t believe the degree of brutality that is being perpetrated in Syria because I didn’t believe it either until I saw it.’

It was interesting to hear their impression of the US. ‘US and Europe pretend they care about human rights. We asked for freedom and democracy and fair treatment and no one helps. We are determined and will go it alone for the US only gives voice to support the dignity of humanity but they don’t act on that belief. They are words only.’

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