By Dr. Yusra Khan, Medical Volunteer
I did not expect to meet people from so many different countries and in such large numbers. People from Congo, Afghanistan, Togo, Cameroon, Yemen, and Syria. People speaking Farsi, French, Arabic, and Lingala. All of them seeking refuge from traumatic situations and housed together in tents or isoboxes.
For a medical volunteer, it is common to hear a complaint that starts with “chest pain, back pain, abdominal pain for the past 15 years.” One woman told me that she had to throw her long term hypertensive/diabetic medications off the ship because it weighed too much. At the clinic, we provide them with free medications, but after a few months of supply, they eventually need to buy their medications.
Medical issues are not the only unbearable thing to witness; many people suffer from PTSD, depression, and anxiety – they need therapy or medication to help them sleep properly. They worry about their eight-hour asylum interviews and what obstacles they will face next. It is difficult to see that most people do not have the emotional support of their loved ones nearby. Instead, they are alone and crammed into tents with strangers.
I appreciate Dr. Abdulhadi, the organizer of the clinic, who passionately operates the clinic every day. He trained in Syria and is now a valuable point of contact for many different NGOs and the Greek healthcare system. He ensures medications are in stock, referrals are processed, and every patient cared for.
One day he was in the hospital in the morning, and he returned to the clinic in the afternoon with IV still attached to him. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t take a day to himself. But then I realized, these are the strong-minded, resilient personalities that have emerged from their intense life experiences. The people here are exceptional and determined fighters.
I am grateful that I was able to work alongside them. Just like billiard games, sometimes we need to rebound from each other’s paths and pass momentum to gain better direction in life and not be indifferent.
We should treat all humans with humanity. I pray that the people I met can find a civilized home, where they actually feel comforted and live peacefully, one day, InshAllah, Amen.
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