Friday, 19 August 2016

Day 5 SAMS Global Response: Return to Karamanli

Today me and Omar were assigned to recruit for the trauma support initiative. We started at Karamanli. This was the first camp SAMS opened a clinic in, and where I did a few shifts back in May.

The camp has developed since then, with the clinic moving into proper office space, a school being built and organised, and a lot more infrastructure being put in place. The refugees were still living in tents in the warehouse, but there is now a small shop run by refugees, alongside a government shop that distributes consumables on a points system, giving people the chance to choose their own food, wash products or clothes. There is also a tailor who comes to the camp and works for free several hours a week, repairing  and making clothes. A dentist visits every fortnight, and residents from nearby camps can be brought over for treatment. There is a play area for kids, and a cafe with board games. There is even an area set aside for a gym, but no equipment just yet. The residents work out using makeshift equipment at the moment.

The contrast between Iliadis and Karamanli is stark. A lot of the problems at Iliadis could be resolved if the residents had the same access to food, and social and recreational activities as the residents at Karamanli.

The facilities for the medical clinic are much better. The old clinic building is now a storeroom, and the clinic has moved inside the warehouse into old office space. It's a lot more spacious, well ventilated and easier to oversee.

Refugee volunteers were being trailed on the triage desk today, assisted by a translator and a medic. Those that perform well will be made community triage officers and be given more responsibility for looking after the health needs of the community.

Our translator Mara had already identified a number of refugees for the trauma support initiative who were already involved in camp activities, either teaching in the camp school or volunteering with NGOs to support the camp. We approached them first and found them very receptive to the idea. After lots of talking and several cups of strong coffee we had found three recruits at the camp to involve in the training.

After lunch we headed to Frakapor camp to continue recruiting there. Frakapor is the largest camp supported by SAMS, with around 700 residents, predominantly Kurds from Northern Syria.

We found many more willing recruits in Frakapor, predominantly young people. This was a marked change to the other camps where the volunteers were predominantly older people or professionals. Hopefully this will create a diverse team able to implement the trauma support initiative more effectively across the three camps.

Tonight the hotel is holding a party for the volunteers, to thank us for our work (and the business we are giving them).  It'll be a much needed chance to relax and unwind after a busy week.

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