January 8, 2014

St. John Medical Center team brings hope to displaced Syrians

Dr. Eiad Sayed, Kristin Hoops, RN, and Nicki Vacco, RN, from St. John Medical Center (SJMC), have been leading a medical relief team to Jordan every two months. They assist the displaced in their fight to survive the civil war that plagues Syria. The SJMC team made its last trip to Jordan Nov. 15-22 and is going again in January. Their destination is the Zaatari Refugee Camp – a refugee community on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan. More than 160,000 displaced people from Syria call it home.

Their story was featured in the The Villager Newspaper Online the day after Christmas. As seen in The Villager Newspaper:

Christmas Story 2013: St. John Medical Center Team Brings Hope to Displaced Syrians

A homeless family seeks shelter. A baby sleeps in a stable. As the Christmas story is celebrated worldwide this week, the plight of Syrian refugees brings real meaning to the birth of Jesus for missionaries from St. John Medical Center in Westlake.

Dr. Eiad Sayed, Kristin Hoops, RN, and Nicki Vacco, RN, have been leading a medical relief team to Jordan every two months. They assist the displaced in their fight to survive the civil war that plagues Syria.

“This is the season for giving and love. The story of the Holy Family reminds us that there are many people living in the equivalent of stables and barns in Jordan, just a few miles from their home country of Syria,” said Dr. Sayed, an internal medicine specialist with offices on the campus of St. John Medical Center.

“There are over six million people displaced there, and half of them are children,” he said. “This crisis is now in its third year. And this year it is cold over there. People are freezing, children are showing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and there are shortages of food and medicine.”

The SJMC team made its last trip to Jordan Nov. 15-22. They are going again in January. Their destination is the Zaatari Refugee Camp – a refugee community on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan. More than 160,000 displaced persons from Syria call it home.

Dr. Sayed, Hoops (a labor and delivery nurse), and Vacco, (a surgical nurse at SJMC), have traveled to Jordan several times in the past year. They travel under the auspices of the Salaam Cultural Museum Medical Mission – a nonprofit organization that provides aid and assistance to displaced Syrians who have fled to neighboring countries to escape the violence in Syria.

“It is a reminder to the Displaced Syrians that Americans do care,” said Dr. Sayed.

The three fund their trips personally and also rely on donations. They take suitcases packed with medical supplies. They set up clinics in private apartments and tents, pharmacies in storage units and provide medical care where ever a sympathetic door is opened.

The atrocities they witness are extraordinary. There are stories of children being shot in front of parents, torture and deprivation of physical necessities basic to life.

“They wait for us to come back every two months,” said Dr. Sayed. “And they offer us anything they may have in appreciation, even if it is just a little food.”

“You run on adrenaline the whole time you are there,” said Hoops. “The parents of teenage girls, they don’t even have time to explain to these girls about the adolescent changes that are going on with their bodies. They are too busy running for their lives.”

The sponsoring website, www.SalaamCulturalMuseum.org, is replete with stories of survival, torture and human suffering caused by this civil war.

“People usually go to Jordan to visit Biblical sights. We go to makeshift clinics,” said Dr. Sayed. “We have to do it!”

“We are only able to do this one person at a time. But any effort will help,” said Hoops. “When you go, you think it is just going to be a drop in the bucket. But when you visit clinics, you help people, you see just what a difference you can make.”

For information on how to help support this mission, please visit www.SalaamCulturalMuseum.org.

St. John Medical Center is a 50/50 joint venture of the Sisters of Charity Health System and University Hospitals. Pictured are Dr. Sayed and Kristin Hoops, RN.

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