Syrian refugee uses skills from interrupted studies as Red Cross hospital volunteer

Gwen Eamer, Canadian Red Cross / IFRC
Image: Gwen Eamer, Canadian Red Cross / IFRC

Nawaf was three years into a challenging five-year bachelor’s degree in computer and information engineering in Damascus when the ongoing Syrian conflict forced him to put his dreams on pause.

Red Cross Red Cresent hospital
  • The Red Cross Red Crescent’s Azraq hospital for Syrian refugees is supported by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and the governments of Canada and Italy.
  • Since opening in October, it has treated more than 400 patients from among the nearly 12,000 Syrian refugees living in Azraq camp.
  • Röda Korsets och Röda Halvmånens sjukhus på flyktinglägret i Azraq i Jordaninen har vårdat över 400 patienter sedan oktober. 

    • Ungefär 12 000 syriska flyktingar bor i lägret.
    • Sjukhusets verksamhet bekostas av europakommissionens kontor för humanitärt och civilt bistånd,ECHO och av regeringarna i Kanada och Italien.
    • Finlands, Norges, Tysklands och Kanadas Röda Kors deltar i sjukhusprojektet.  Europakommissionens kontor för humanitärt och civilt bistånd är den största finansiären.

      Röda Korsets och Röda Halvmånens sjukhus på flyktinglägret i Azraq i Jordaninen har vårdat över 400 patienter sedan oktober. 

    • Ungefär 12 000 syriska flyktingar bor i lägret.
    • Sjukhusets verksamhet bekostas av europakommissionens kontor för humanitärt och civilt bistånd,ECHO och av regeringarna i Kanada och Italien.
    • Finlands, Norges, Tysklands och Kanadas Röda Kors deltar i sjukhusprojektet.  Europakommissionens kontor för humanitärt och civilt bistånd är den största finansiären.

      Röda Korsets och Röda Halvmånens sjukhus på flyktinglägret i Azraq i Jordaninen har vårdat över 400 patienter sedan oktober. 

      Ungefär 12 000 syriska flyktingar bor i lägret.

      Sjukhusets verksamhet bekostas av europakommissionens kontor för humanitärt och civilt bistånd,ECHO och av regeringarna i Kanada och Italien.

      Finlands, Norges, Tysklands och Kanadas Röda Kors deltar i sjukhusprojektet.  Europakommissionens kontor för humanitärt och civilt bistånd är den största finansiären.

    Sairaalahankkeessa ovat mukana Suomen, Norjan, Saksan ja Kanadan Punaiset Ristit. Suurin rahoittaja on ECHO eli Euroopan komission humanitaarisen avun toimisto. - See more at: http://www.punainenristi.fi/uutiset/20141113/syyrialaistytto-toipuu-ampu...

His family, who lived in Ghota, south of Damascus, had already fled the country some 18 months before, but Nawaf, 24 and the oldest of seven siblings, stayed behind. He had hoped to stay in Syria’s capital city long enough to finish his degree in the field he is passionate about, but with his home destroyed by shelling and sniper attacks escalating in his community, he was forced to follow his family into neighbouring Jordan in August.  

“I was afraid of being killed on the way to school,” he says. “My only dream is to finish my degree, but now life in Syria is too dangerous.”

Nawaf arrived in Azraq, which sits in the middle of the desert 90 kilometres from the Syrian border, in August and quickly recognized faces in his new home; “my neighbour in the camp was also my neighbour in Ghota,” he says. Finding community in the midst of chaos prompted Nawaf to look for ways to support his old – and new – neighbours. Within days he had enrolled in a volunteer program run by another humanitarian organization working in the camp, and found himself volunteering in the Red Cross Red Crescent hospital that provides specialized medical care to Syrian refugees.

As a volunteer, he now manages the hospital’s patient registration and discharge system. Today Nawaf has admitted 15 new patients and sent home two vans full of patients who have been treated but are not yet strong enough to walk back to their villages in the camp. He organizes X-rays and labs for patients being treated in the community and schedules consultations for those with more acute medical needs. Soon, he will also be putting his computer skills to good use, as the Red Cross hospital transitions to an electronic patient management system.

“I like working with the Red Cross and learning about humanitarian principles like neutrality and impartiality,” he says. “I like the work, and my friends and colleagues here are like a Red Cross family. I help the Red Cross, and the Red Cross helps the refugees, so my work means something.”

Young people like Nawaf are at the centre of a ‘lost’ generation whose education has been disrupted and who face an unknown future.

“Syria is my heart,” he finishes. “I hope that I can finish my studies somewhere and that the war ends, so I can go home, get married, rebuild my house. Everything I learn in my studies I want to use when I go home, to help my country rebuild.”