Demonstrating Christ’s Love to Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Post a Comment » Written on June 4th, 2014     
Filed under: Disaster Relief
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Syria has been ravaged by war. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and it is estimated that millions more have had to leave the country as refugees. I have worked with refugees and it is my opinion that refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. They are in an unfamiliar place, forced out of their homes because of violence, and are trying to create their life again amidst confusion, sorrow, and pain. There are many relief organizations that believe the same as I do about the importance of helping refugees; these organizations have been working in Lebanon with refugees from Syria for a while now. One of the organizations that CWR partners with in Lebanon is Medical Teams International.

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Medical Teams International (MTI) is working in Lebanon refugee camps with Syrian refugees, creating a community health outreach program. They are partnered with Heart for Lebanon (HFL). HFL provides food distributions, winterization campaigns and literacy programs for people in refugee camps.  HFL is unusual compared to other non-profit organizations in the region because the people living in the camps have gotten to know HFL and have created a relationship with them and are now open to real partnership. This causes the community members to be more aware of and receptive to the community health clinic that MTI is organizing.

The beginning of an effective community health campaign involves information–what are the community’s strengths and what does the community see as issues that need to be improved? Through the relationship set up with HFL, MTI has been able to closely work with the community in nine refugee camps, trying to figure out what would be most helpful as a part of a community health clinic. To that end they spent quite a few days interviewing many members of the different camps on what the strengths and weakness of the camp were. The top priorities for the camp members were diarrhea, diabetes, skin problems, and maternal health.

Until this point most of the work with refugees from Syria is focused on relief, helping the communities survive.  In the midst of the relief work, Medical Teams International (MTI) is trying to incorporate a development health program which will build up the communities’ own ability to prevent and recognize disease. It is different than simple relief work because it is not focused on handing out medications or paying people but rather focused on giving the community the ability to help itself in the long run.

MTI is a great example of a CWR partner. It is working to do the most good, trying to create development and sustainable projects instead of just focusing on short term relief. MTI is responding to the needs of the community, working with vulnerable people to help improve their lives.

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