Michael Bailey, World Vision Syria Crisis Response Communications Manager talks about his personal experience of the Syrian Crisis.
The war in Syria hit me personally yesterday. It wasn't a bullet or shrapnel that cut into my heart. It was the tear of my friend Vince, the break in his voice, driven by the story he was telling. A story I was filming.
Vince is part of World Vision's advance team in Syria, moving around looking for the best place for us to start working on more refugee camps for some of the more than 4.25 million displaced people there, this is his story that broke my heart:
“There was one particular incident, it was in an urban setting. There were probably fifty people living in this blown-out building. I was sitting down with them, talking about their needs asking questions like what did they need? where did they flee from? This woman came to me. I have a little bit of medical training, I’m an emergency medical technician.… She came to me and presented her son, he was nine years old. He had cancer.
He had a D-catheter in his belly and he was using urination bags and through my interpreter, she was telling me this was the last D-catheter and she had no more spare urination bags and the bag was already half-filled. She didn’t know what she was going to do. They had no money, no way of getting anything. She said that in the local souk the pharmacist could probably get more D-catheters and replacement bags, but they didn’t have the money to buy them.
Vince paused, swallowed and looked up, “When we go into this sort of environment it’s easy to programme for large populations; it’s very hard to stand in front of a 9-year-old boy. I told her I would help, I told her I wouldn’t let her down. I broke a lot of the rules that we tell ourselves.
“The next day I went to the souk. I bought every D-catheter there out of my own pocket and every spare bag I could find.” Vince pauses, shakes his head, "Oh man," he says, looking down at the desk, swallowing his emotions.
“I brought it back to the family, showed them how to change the D-catheter and the bags.” Vince stops again and apologises.
“There are a lot of stories like this. This moved me on a personal level because I was right there. I knew World Vision was going to help. I can tell you this, we are operating in that area and we are doing good. We are helping a lot of people and very shortly, next week, we will roll out our new primary health care facility. It’ll have doctors on staff, nurses and midwives and we’ll be able to see 500 children a day.”
I asked Vince what his response was to those who ask what business World Vision has working in the Middle East and why we should be responding to a disaster that is manmade.
“You're absolutely right, it's man made. But let me tell you what's not man made,” he said. “Those children didn't ask for their houses to get bombed. They didn't ask to be dragged away in the middle of the night and travel hundreds of miles. They didn't ask for that. You have millions of people, millions right now that are displaced, afraid, scared, alone.
“There are 1,500 people in one place where we are working. And you can see it in some of the children's eyes, they are alone. They are among 1,500 people, but they're alone.
“Why World Vision in the Middle East?” he asks out loud. “Why not World Vision in the Middle East? These people didn't create the devastation they are in. These children didn't create the devastation they are in. So whether it's a tsunami, whether it's an earthquake, whether it's manmade, there are people that suffer just the same.
“From my first time going into Syria, I have sat down on rugs and on pillows. I've met with sheiks, council members and military council members, with beneficiaries. The reason we're here is to ensure we reach the most needy.
“It is expensive because you can't just go to the store and get something. So just when you think you have a handle on it and know how many people are in an area, you’ve got it all figured out, how we're gonna help them, the next day 5000 more show up and you start all over again.… Yes, it's expensive, but is it worth it? How much is a child's life worth? How much are 10,000 children worth? And how much are a million children worth?
“We need help. We're here in Syria. But we need help.”
Please click here to donate what you can afford so we can provide shelter, blankets, food and basic essentials to thousands of families who’ve had to leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Your support will help to benefit the lives of millions of people affected by this Syrian crisis. Thank you!
If you liked this article, don't be shy and please share it with your friends and family: