Rogin Zuber is one of 5.6 million Syrians who have fled to Syria’s neighbouring countries due to the war and, now, often surviving under difficult circumstances. Petra in Lebanon, on the other hand, helps people as a Red Cross volunteer. Both benefit from the MADAD programme, implemented by 15 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – including the German Red Cross. Its aim is to improve the living conditions of refugees and host communities in need, such as medical help. Get to know about Rogin´s and Petra´s experiences.
Feeling safer thanks to ambulance nearby
As her severe stomach aches, dizziness and vomiting kept getting worse a few months ago, Rogin Zuber worried. „I was more afraid for my children’s life than my own. They are so small. What should they do, if I was not around anymore?”, she recalls. The 33-year-old mother and her family fled from Qamishli in Syria to Iraq in 2013 and now live in Kawergosk refugee camp outside Erbil.
The pain was so severe she could hardly walk. For 2-3 days she was suffering, before she called the ambulance nearby, that is staffed with volunteers from the Iraq Red Crescent Society (IRCS). They arrived quickly, she says, they checked her blood pressure and transported her to the closeby health center, then to a larger hospital in Erbil. The team also supported her mentally: “There was a very nice girl in the ambulance. She kept talking to me and she made me calm down a bit. It was nice”, Rogin says.
Health promotion, hygiene kits and equipment
Rogin was treated for appendicitis, she had surgery and returned home to her husband, a dayworker, and her three children after two days. She feels safer today, knowing that there is an ambulance crew in her refugee camp. “It is a good service. If we call, they’ll be here. And we know they will do all they can to help.”
Besides the ambulance service 33-year-old Rogin has also received a hygiene kit and a health awareness consultation from the IRCS-volunteers. This aid aims to improve the health of refugees and belongs to the MADAD programme. The programme also includes support like the distribution of first aid kits, hygiene promotion and equipping ambulances.
„The ambulance station is like a second family for me“
Hundreds of miles away, Petra is also involved in the MADAD programme – not as a patient, but as a volunteer with the Lebanese Red Cross. When the sun sets over the Lebanese mountains, shift begins for her and a small group of other volunteers: They work all night in an ambulance station to respond to medical emergencies. A small medical first-aid clinic also belongs to the facilities.
More people need medical help
The European Trust Fund Madad finances some of the training for the ambulance station. It is important that the work runs smoothly, as there is currently a lot of pressure on the ambulance system in Lebanon. Considering its population (around 4 million people), the Lebanon offers refuge to a great number of people (1.5 million Syrian refugees). All these people need health care. Petra also finds that a lot of refugees and locals come to the clinic to receive help in emergencies.
Like a second family
All the people working the night shifts do it for free. Petra, too, who has been volunteering with the Red Cross for nine years, now. She works as an ambulance driver – a job that requires good stress management and focus. Petra´s commitment has become an integral part of her identity: “I like it because I am helping people. And I now have many friends here. This is like my second family.”
» Get to know more about the MADAD Programme.
Text: Rikke Østergård and John Engedal Nissen
Photos: Rikke Østergård/Danish Red Cross, John Engedal Nissen/Danish Red Cross