Christmas campaign: Our volunteers share stories of working with refugees

Published 7th December 2016

As part of our highly successful Christmas campaign, we’ve done a series of mini-interviews with the brave staff and volunteers who help refugees and displaced people from the Middle East at our clinics.

Our first interview is with Aaminah Verity, a doctor from London who has volunteered for us in Greece and Slovenia, where we run projects that treat many refugees.

“In Greece, I dealt with seven psychiatric emergencies in less than three months. We were treating refugees from the Middle East who were processing everything they’d been through and were showing acutely psychotic symptoms,” says Aaminah.

“One woman tried to commit suicide three times. Every person I met had lost someone they loved.”

When Aaminah volunteered for us on the Greek island of Chios, where people would arrive on dinghies from nearby Turkey to seek refuge in Europe, she saw patients aged between five months and 84 years.

She also provided medical consultations and care for pregnant women and patients who were disabled, including a 13-year-old boy in a wheelchair. You can watch a video about her time in Chios below:

“We were using infrared thermometers and when we put them on children’s foreheads we were shocked to see them scream and drop to the floor. We realised that it was making them think of a gun to the head,” Aaminah says of her time in Greece. “We had to demonstrate by putting the thermometers on our own heads first to calm them down.”

Our Christmas campaign urges people to consider the realities of the Middle East – to highlight these realities, we’ve launched a set of alternative cards that juxtapose vintage nativity scenes with modern photographs of the region’s conflict zones.

We’ve been delighted by the positive response to these cards, which have attracted customers from around the world and have been covered by outlets including the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. You can buy the cards here and every sale will help us continue our vital work in the Middle East.

We will publish the rest of this series of interviews on social media over the next fortnight. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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