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Bridge of Life Up Close

Humanity and Hope: My Experience Screening Syrian Refugees in Jordan

I’ve participated in previous Bridge of Life (BOL) missions, but the Jordan screening I attended in April 2018 evoked the most emotions for me. In partnership with the Syrian American Medical Society, our volunteer team of eight DaVita Kidney Care teammates screened over 1,000 displaced Syrian refugees for chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease. This mission was so different because of the population’s history of all they have been through and continue to endure.

The people of Syria have suffered far more than I could EVER imagine in my lifetime. Their homes have been destroyed. They have lost loved ones. Some of their family is still back in Syria, and they have no hope of reuniting. They can’t go home when they have nothing to go back to, no resources to rebuild and when it’s not safe to return.

But I could see the impact that our mission and our volunteers had on the men, women and children who came to our screening. Despite the safety they found in Jordan, the refugees struggle to make ends meet every day and to provide for their families. This mission provided them with basic healthcare services they no longer have access to. And it reminded them that they are still people in this world who care about their health and happiness.

During my time in Jordan, I saw smiling faces of men, women and children. I saw people making the best of their situation with grace. I remembered receiving hugs, kisses and numerous invitations to visit the refugees’ “homes” for dinner and to visit them if I ever came back. I remembered one man who called his American friend and let me talk to him just because we both are American and speak English. I recalled how I saw one man carrying his son with special needs over his shoulder just so he wouldn’t have to leave him alone while he and his wife attended the screening. I saw babies of all ages – a reminder of how these people would continue to thrive despite all they had endured. Life has a way of going on!

What we accomplished on this mission seemed so small compared to a need that is so great, but to the refugees, it meant so much. A smile, a hug, a laugh, a sticker for a child…showing them a little kindness and respect made more of an impact with them than anything else. And the opportunity for them to check on their health, meet with a physician and receive health education – it was such a simple act on our end but an incredible gesture for them. They are survivors!

My cup is so full right now that I can’t even describe how I truly feel. BOL has done wonderful things, but this is, in my opinion, the most important mission they have ever completed. I am so thankful that I got to be a part of it and would do this full-time if I could. I am grateful and proud to work with an organization that provides healthcare to those most in need around the world and can’t wait to go back. Just tell me when!

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