I pray for you my dear Syrian heroes. Kamil Malshy

My thoughts and prayers are with you my dear Syrian heroes.

KAMIL MALSHY

TRANSLATED FROM ARABIC BY NAGAT YASSINE

After 26 days spent in Preševo's camp, along with those heroic refugees, I can say that the time I spent there was the highlight of my life so far! Here I am now, sitting in front of my computer trying to recall those unforgettable, heartwarming memories I have left of such a lifetime experience.

On my first day there, I was taken to where I was to receive patients; a tiny, modest clinic, where I met those heroic refugees, treated them, and couldn't but get attached to each one of them. I received many patients during my stay in Serbia; I still remember their stories and their medical conditions, as if it was yesterday.

I will never forget the first patient I treated there; she was an Iraqi Kurdish young woman, who had an eye infection, I treated her wishing her a more fulfilling life, and so we did with thousands of other patients, whose faces are all carved in my memory. 

Not in a million years will I ever forget you dear Warda. Warda came from "Der-Ezzor"- one of the largest cities in Syria. For a woman who was only nineteen and in her fourth month of pregnancy, she suffered a great deal of loss and pain. She came to see me after she has been informed that one of her twin babies was dead. She was shivering, with high fever, pale face caused by anemia and malnutrition, not to mention that she had a urinary tract infection. Regardless of all the bad symptoms she had, she only wanted me to check on her fetus's health. I checked her, gave her some antibiotics and other medications, and told her that she should go to a hospital outside of Šid if she's concerned about the fetus, which she refused, for it would cause her to be separated from her family. She preferred to stay with them, continuing their desperate trip to Germany

On that day, I remember when a young man, the same age as me, came to me begging for some pain killers so that he'd be able to help his wife with carrying their babies. Regardless of his severe medical condition, he refused to be checked. He was very pale, weak, and had a persistent vomiting. He apologized for the mess he caused, and was about to leave until I stopped him. First I couldn't but hug him for his bravery, and tell him how brave I think he is and that I was there for him, and most importantly that he must stay and let me treat him. He stayed eventually, thanks God.

The same scenario kept happening again and again every day; patients who had severe health conditions but still refused to stay for few hours in the clinic for they don't want to be left alone, or separated from their families.

Another remarkable man I met there was Abu Mohammed. He's encountering the experience of being a refugee for the second time in his life; he has been deported from Palestine 67 years ago, lived most of his life in the Syrian Palestinian Yarmouk camp, and now heading to… God knows where.

-Abu Mohammed: are you from Palestine doctor?

-Me: yes, I'm from Haifa, how did you know that?

- Abu Mohammed: Based on your dialect, I'm a Palestinian too. I was deported from Lubia 67 years ago.

Then, all of a sudden, he pressed my hand and started to cry, and continued saying: "oooh doctor, here I am being deported for the second time, along with my family. This is an unjust world."

In the end he asked for his medications and said: "send my love to my beloved Lubia". He was fighting back tears as he spoke. That was definitely one of the scenes that most affected me ever.

As soon as he left my clinic, a crippled young man in a wheel chair came in, with his little brother pulling the wheelchair though he was exhausted. They told me that he was hit by the Syrian army, and cannot walk again, and asked me to check on his wound for it might be infected. I assured them that it was recovering well, and there was no need to worry about it. Then, while I was writing down his name and other details, I saw the little brother trying very hard to put him back in his chair. That was very touching, I felt something I have never felt before, and couldn't withhold my tears, or myself from hugging that little Syrian hero.

To those unfortunate refugees, New Year's Eve was not that special occasion, on the contrary, that night was one of the worst nights in their lives. It was minus fifteen degrees, and there were about thirty children standing outside the crowded tent of UNHCR. We tried to find them a warm and "safe" place to stay the night.

One of the toughest moments I faced in that camp was when we received a phone call at 3:30 in the morning from one of the volunteers, informing us they had an emergency; a two-year-old baby was fighting for his life. We went there as fast as we could, but there was nothing much we could have done at that moment. He had a congestive heart failure, and was unconscious when we got there. He needed to be taken to Germany, for his condition required an urgent surgery. Unfortunately, since we were short on time, he did not make it. His name was Fahd Osama, two-year-old with Down syndrome, from Deer Ezzoor, died on January 11, 2016. Another loss to humanity…

We buried him the same day, in Preševo, along with the other immigrants, away from what once was their home.

Fahd's incident was one of many similar incidents that happened, and are still happening to many Syrian babies. And believe me; hearing about it in the news is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes. Everything changes the moment you go and meet those refugees.

Now that I'm back, every time I'm in the train station, I can't but remember the old rusty train that used to transport thousands of refugees to their "promising" destinations, being their only hope for a better world. My thoughts and prayers are with you my dear Syrian heroes.

Preševo camp_Serbia. 2016

Dr. Kamil Melshy is a graduate of the Technion Medical School, class of 2015. 26 years old, from Haifa. He belongs to an Arab Christian family from Nazareth.

Serbia - kamil.jpg

Our Last year - 5776

 

5776 has been quite intense for NATAN with two main operations: the medical and psychosocial relief in Nepal after the earthquake, followed by the cycle of trainings in the Dahding district, and the help to the Middle-East refugees on the Balkan route.

This last year more than sixty volunteers took an active part in Natan’s humanitarian effort, all experienced professionals. The operation for the Syrian refugees brought to our volunteer’s community many newcomers of the Israeli-Arab professionals. More than ever before, Natan integrates Jews, Muslim and Christians in the endeavor to help the neediest.

It has also been the proper time to strengthen the organization by a strategic process, completed by a plan for the coming years and by strong partnerships in the training of volunteers.

Preparing for the Next Disaster

When a disaster strikes, it is vital that we are able to deploy professionals in the shortest possible time. Natan aims to have a cadre of well- trained and qualified volunteers who are willing to dispatch to an emergency zone at times of crisis.

Together with our partner SID-Israel, Natan organized a short and intensive training course for professionals interested in volunteering in disaster relief on the topic ‘Principles for Responsible Deployment to an Emergency Zone’

Together with SID-Israel, our closest partner at home, we ran a short and intensive training course for professionals aiming to volunteer in disaster relief. The demand to participate in the course was overwhelming, and from over 120 applicants we selected just over 50 participants. All the participants are from relevant professional fields, most of them with international experience.

The course used Nepal as a case study for working in disaster zones, focusing on humanitarian practices, managing humanitarian projects and the unique conditions of disaster zones.

The training will allow Natan’s volunteers to be more effective in the field, and has expanded our database of potential volunteers for current and future operations.

Meet Jenny Sharma – Natan's Nepalese representative and psychosocial coordinator

Jenny Sharma is a Nepalese social worker with over 10 years of development experience, working mostly with vulnerable women and children.  Jenny has been invaluable in helping Natan coordinate with local organizations and community leaders, organizing Natan’s psychosocial work in Sindupalchowk, one of the areas most affected by the earthquake, with most of the houses and 98% of schools were almost or totally destroyed.

With Jenny’s help, Natan and partner NGOs ran seminars led by experts in post-trauma rehabilitation, who trained local teams of educators and community leaders in trauma and education, psychological first aid and dealing with trauma through sport. The unique model of aid that Natan’s experts have developed through working in a number of disaster-hit areas, not only allows people to return to a daily pattern of life, but also shows them that it is possible to move on and grow from a crisis.

Sharada Pr. Sapkota, principal of Rajeshwori Higher Secondary school in Shipapokhare told us that after the earthquake, all the children, parents and teacher were in shock, and the team thought that the children wouldn’t return to school. “But due to the training and the willingness of teachers to help and share their knowledge after the training they received from Natan”, says the principal, “almost all our children were back to school”.

One of the participants of the training recalls that “we were very scared. Everyone had difficulties sleeping and eating. I kept thinking that there will be another big quake and we will be killed, so there was no motivation to do anything. But after getting experience with different approaches like drama, counselling and dancing, I think it will be easier for community members to get on with rebuilding our lives.”


Meet Dr. Sharon Shaul – Natan's first volunteer in the field

Within two days of hearing about the earthquake in Nepal Dr. Sharon Shaul, a family doctor and mother of four, had dropped everything and was getting ready to boarda plane to Kathmandu.

Together with Dr. Dalya Navot and our partners on the ground, Dr. Shaul travelled to remote villages, sometimes several hours drive or walk away from the nearest medical center, where she established makeshift medical clinics and treated hundreds of people who had no other access to medical care. Natan's dedicated volunteer medical teams have so far treated over 2400 people, and have begun training local health teams in first aid and disaster relief.

While most of the international aid relief was centered around the capital city Kathmandu, the damage was most severe in many of the outlying villages. With the support of local partner NGO’s,  Dr. Shaul and her team travelled to distant villages where they would set up temporary mobile clinics for a day or two. Each doctor treated approximately 50 people per day, providing emergency and primary care to the sick and injured

Why did you volunteer?                                                                                                                       

I have volunteered with Natan  in a number of countries worldwide: In Haiti following the earthquake in 2010, then the Philippines following the typhoon in 2013, and now in Nepal. You hear about these terrible events on the news, but the feeling that you can actually do something to help - even if it's very small, makes you want to do whatever you can. And arriving so soon after a disaster, when there is still chaos and thousands of people whose lives are at risk if they don’t receive basic primary healthcare, makes you feel that even if you are only there for a short period you are really making a difference.

Tell us of a meaningful experience you had in Nepal

One eight day old baby had fever and loss of appetite. I treated him with antibiotics, and a nurse stayed in the village to supervise him for a few days. For us it seems so trivial to prescribe antibiotics, but to reach the nearest health post the family would have had to walk for many hours, and the baby would have most probably died without this simple medical intervention.

What advice would you give other potential volunteers?

I believe that the most important thing is to have respect for the local people. We are only there for a few weeks or months. We can’t fully understand the culture or what the daily lives of the people will be like after we leave. So we always listen and respect the input of local people and community leaders.


Facing Nepal: Training the Trainers

Over fourty local leaders and professionals from villages in the Sindulpalchowk region managed to get away from the chaos of the aftermath of the earthquakes by attending a three day seminar run by our team in partnership with Nepalese psychologists, social workers and representatives from the Asian Academy for Peace and Development, and the amazing Seven Summits Women Team.

In a relaxed atmosphere the participants learned post-trauma treatment methods, and received training in basic emergency medical care. Based on the tried and tested method of training the trainers, each participant was equipped with the skills not only to implement what they had learned, but also to teach others in their villages and home towns. 

The seminar was also attended by Gil Haskel, head of MASHAV - Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation,  and Israeli Ambassador to Nepal Mr. Yaron Mayer. We thank them for their support and are looking forward to a productive partnership in the future.

Facing Nepal: Thousands Treated At Health Posts

Our dedicated medical teams have so far treated over two thousand people, most in remote villages where little or no other aid had reached. Our volunteers have integrated into village health posts, assisting local doctors and nurses and providing training in emergency medicine to local medical teams to enable them to treat the populations should another disaster take place.

Facing Nepal: More Amazing Volunteers Head to Nepal

The new volunteers will join our team already on the ground, and will be headed by Dr. Yuri Gordon, an expert in post-trauma care and behavioural medicine, and a researcher of cerebral intervention during emergencies. Joining him are social worker Dana Zoli and Almog and Ishai from Mifalot – Education and Society Enterprises, an organization we have been partnering with since our work in Haiti. 

Good luck!

Facing Nepal: Inspiration Music - Great Music for a Great Cause

We've teamed up with Inspiration Arts to hold an inspiring musical evening to raise funds for our mission to help the people of Nepal.


Performers will include Alon Oliarchik, Miki Gabrielove, Yemen Blues, Mercedes Band, Yossi Mizrachi (The Collective), Rotem Bar-Or (The Angelcy), Didi Erez, Bettering Trio, Isaiah, Benny Menashe, Elisha Banai and the Forty Thieves, Echo & Tito and more. 


Date: June 15, 2015
Time: 20:30
Location: Barby Club, Kibbutz Galuyot 52, Tel Aviv
Tickets
100 NIS – Ticket that includes a special ‘bird of stone’ brooch that has been designed especially for the campaign
80 NIS – Regular entrance ticket
60 NIS – student ticket


Tickets can be purchased at: https://www.tixwise.co.il/nepal.
See the facebook event for full details.
For more information contact Gal Sade on 050-668-4474 or gal@britolam.org.

Facing Nepal: Bird of Stone Bringing Hope to Nepal Once Again

Our creative support team in Israel have launched an innovative way to raise funds for our operation - the Bird of Stone pin.  The Bird of Stone is a golden pin shaped as the bird from the King Yoganarendra Malla’s Statue in Patan, Nepal, referred to as the “Bird of Stone” in Rachel Shapira’s song “Nepal”, the most familiar version of which is sung by Gali Atari.

According to legend (as well as the song), when the Bird of Stone flies, “it will become a time of abundance, and all the hopeless will no longer know distress”.  Sadly the original Bird of Stone at the temple in Patan, Nepal, was destroyed during the earthquake.

Please help us preserve its memory. One pin costs 20₪, with all  the income going towards our work in Nepal.

For more information see the Bird of Stone facebook page.

The ambassador of Nepal to Israel proudly wearing the Bird of Stone



Facing Nepal: In the News

Talented journalist and member of our second delegation Tamar Dressler has published a number of articles in Israel's Maariv newspapers about her experiences in Nepal and the situation on the ground. 

Her articles have been published on the front page of Maariv, both of the main newspaper and the magazine, and most recently in the weekend magazine. You can read the full article here:  http://www.maariv.co.il/news/world/Article-478714.


Facing Nepal: Mapping the Disaster

During times of crisis, having full information about the terrain you're working in can be essential in making effective decisions. 

With the help of Thema - Environmental Planning & GIS, Natan have built an online mapping system for the use of all the organizations active in Nepal. The site is part of a cloud-based geographic information system, ArcGIS Online. It's purpose is to share spatial data among the various aid organizations and to support recovery and reconstruction efforts following the Nepal earthquake.


The site includes geographic data and relevant maps that were obtained from various sources as well as data layers which are created and managed by Natan.

Everyone is invited to access the system at http://natan-iha.maps.arcgis.com.

Facing Nepal: Long Queues To See Our Medical Team

The queues for our makeshift medical clinics speak for themselves. While Kathmandu has seen large amounts of aid, many of the more remote villages remain largely inaccessible and so have seen little assistance. The number of people injured continues to climb, and even the lightest injuries could get much worse if left untreated. 


The conditions and infrastructure in these areas have become even worse since the second earthquake, and our amazing medical team have been sleeping outside and doing whatever they can, include undertaking arduous treks,  to provide care in villages that other  aid organizations have been unable to reach.

nepal-natan-long-queues-for-treatment

Facing Nepal: Another Earthquake Hits

For a few seconds the ground shook. Only a few seconds but for those who had experienced an earthquake just over two weeks ago it felt like an eternity.

The damage caused by today's earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks is still not fully known, but there was widespread damage, with at least 40 people reported killed

We are hugely relieved to report that despite the temporary communications breakdown we were able to hear from the Natan and Tevel B'tzedek teams who were all scared but safe.

In addition to the physical dangers, the mental damage and trauma experienced by the locals was evident to our team. "All around me people were screaming, crying and trying to escape" said Tamar Dressler, a journalist and member of our second delegation who was in a mountain village when the earthquake hit. "One woman was sure she was going to die... And all I had to comfort her with was a bottle of water".

Today's second earthquake has meant the needs of the local communities are even more pressing. Our medical team are still out in the villages, providing medical aid to an ever growing number of casualties. We will update shortly.

"Despite the chaos, the locals were comforted by the fact that we weren't going to leave. That despite the dangerous and difficult circumstances we were going to stay and help in whatever way we can", said Dressler.

Our thoughts are with our teams in the field and of course the people of Nepal who are experiencing their second major earthquake in less than three weeks. Stay safe!

Facing Nepal: Building Local Partnerships

Together with our partner Tevel B’tzedek, Dr. Ronen Assaf and emergency nurse Adi Ramot have set up a clinic in a makeshift tent community in Kathmandu. The team treated over 90 patients suffering from various ailments and injuries, most resulting from injuries that were left untreated following the earthquake.

In the meantime, other Natan members visited Kathmandu’s ancient quarter Durbar which was devastated by the quake. While Kathmandu did not suffer as much damage as the surrounding villages, many houses were seriously damaged, with thousands left homeless. Throughout the city people can be seen still sitting on the rubble of what was once their house, trying to deal with the loss, wandering how they can move on.

One such person is Katina, a local human rights activist who, together with her family, which includes  her 93 year old mother, are sleeping in the skeleton of what used to be their house. Katina is scared for the family’s future, worried about where they’re going to live. But she’s also a fighter and trained in post-earthquake recovery, and we are sure we will hugely benefit from her local expertise.

Facing Nepal: The Second Delegation Begins Work

We are pleased to report that the team has made it safely to Nepal and have already got to work in assessing the most pressing needs for the delegation. The medical team have split into two groups, one working with our local partner Operation Blessing and the second with Israeli NGO Tevel b'Tzedek. The logistical team, Gil Reines and Shlomit Leibovitch, are in talks with the United Nations, the Red Cross and local organizations in order to assess future needs and plans of action.

The team visited a local school for special needs children in Kathmandu, where the children are understandably hugely distressed by recent events. Shlomit lightened the mood by performing a one man show that is set to take the world by storm :).

Facing Nepal: The Second Delegation Leaves for the Field

After days of hard work, the second Natan delegation has left for Nepal. The delegation is comprised of personnel who are highly experienced in the emergency relief and post-trauma fields and include:

  • 2 doctors – Dr. Sarah Sigalat and Dr. Yaron Assaf
  • 1 emergency nurse - Mrs. Adi Ramot
  • 1 obstetrics nurse - Mrs. Irit Dotan
  • 2 logistics experts - Mrs Shlomit Leibovitch and Mr. Gil Reines
  • 1 journalist - Ms. Tamar Dressler

The team have joined forces with Tevel b’Tzedek, an Israeli NGO with a long history of community development in Nepal, who already have a dedicated team on the ground. We believe that this strategic partnership will enable us to deliver the most effective assistance to the affected population, with the Natan team benefitting from Tevel’s local expertise and Tevel’s team learning from Natan’s experience of disaster relief.

We are always amazed by anyone who leaves their lives at a moment’s notice to help others in need around the world, and wish the whole team the very best of luck!