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Notes from the field: Fleeing ISIS, seeking safety.

by Emily Crowe | Sep 15, 2016

There are thousands of refugees in Greece in need of help, of hope, and someone to care for them. One of many urgent needs is the lack of health care. And this need only increases as more refugees join the thousands in Greece unable to continue their journeys as the European borders have closed.

Sharon Tissell, a Medical Teams International RN volunteer, shared stories with us from her time serving Syrian refugees this summer. Check out her other stories here: Live in Diavata | Helping Syrian refugees


By Sharon Tissell, RN

This camp is only about two months old and houses roughly 1,200 Syrian refugees who were stuck at the border when it closed to further immigration into Europe. The refugees are housed in voluminous canvas tents inside a large warehouse.

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Despite war and extreme loss, and an empty warehouse as a new "home," refugee children still find ways to be kids.

Today we met Ahmed, 25, who came into the clinic for treatment for a torn ligament in his knee. While we treated him, we spoke to him about his journey out of Syria.

When ISIS came to Kobani, he feared for his safety and made the difficult decision to leave Syria with his wife.

They travelled to Turkey where they stayed for some time and where their first son was born in a refugee camp there. In a desperate search for a future for his family, he paid a "smuggler" to take the family across to Greece. The smuggler required 2,500 Euros to take them across the Aegean, and then charged them another 800 euros for life jackets.

Searching for a better life for his family, Ahmed has risked his life, spent his fortune and now is at the mercy of those willing to assist in this crisis.
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Nurse Sharon meets with refugee patients.

They have no options now and the discouragement is plain on his face. Searching for a better life for his family, Ahmed has risked his life, spent his fortune and now is at the mercy of those willing to assist in this crisis. I am so grateful that Medical Teams International can be here to give tangible support through medical care for Ahmed and his family.

The harrowing journey began with 85 refugees on a small rubber boat. Ahmed feared for their lives until they were rescued by the coast patrols and taken into Greece. Their journey continued to the border into Macedonia, but when the border closed Ahmed and his family were returned to Greece and now wonder what their future will hold and what they should do next.