A Thanksgiving Story: Making Peace One Person at a Time

“For those we go there to put unforgettable smiles on their faces. And in return we get eternal memories of happy moments,” says Dr. Sayed.

“For those we go there to put unforgettable smiles on their faces. And in return we get eternal memories of happy moments,” says Dr. Sayed.

You can’t change the world. But you can make a world of difference to someone you help.

That is the message of Westlake doctor Eiad Sayed and the medical missions team that he has accompanied to the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan for the past two years.

“We leave war to the politicians. We are interested in making peace one person at a time,” says Dr. Sayed, who practices at St. John Medical Center.

The Zaatari Refugee Camp sits just outside the Syrian border. It offers haven for the thousands who have fled their homeland. The camp has grown from 15,000 refugees when the Syrian civil war started in 2011 to more than 150,000 today. It is the fourth largest city in Jordan, much of it comprised of tents and corrugated metal shelters.

Dr. Sayed had been travelling to Zaatari every 6 weeks at his own expense. He works with the Salaam Cultural Organization to bring help and hope to the refugees.

An innocent goodbye from a displaced Syrian child in Alzaatary to the team.

An innocent goodbye from a displaced Syrian child in Alzaatary to the team.

Some of the stories encountered by the St. John Medical Center team are horrifying. Jenin Sallouha, a social worker, says the cruelty of terrorists is dramatic.

“One day they might choose to shoot at young girls, another day they might make a game of targeting pregnant women,” she said. Jenin works with spinal cord victims at the camp.

“People are sometimes afraid that donations to our mission will be turned into bullets. Be assured, the donations are used to help the victims,” she said.

Dr. Sayed takes a special interest in pediatrics. He has helped create a pediatrics center in Amman to treat children suffering from PTSD. “If you don’t treat these kids right away, they are scarred for life. At our center, we are able to re-socialize them. They learn to laugh again and be children.

“By working one person at a time, we can help them return to normal,” says Dr. Sayed.

Kristin Hoops, RN, an OB nurse at SJMC, has been to Zataari several times and knows the impact the missions effort can make.

“You probably know the story about the starfish on the beach,” she says. “You can’t save them all by throwing them back into the water. But what a difference it makes to the ones you can help!”

Grateful children expressing thanks to Dr. Sayed and the medical team from St. John  Medical Center.

Grateful children expressing thanks to Dr. Sayed and the medical team from St. John
Medical Center.

Dr Sayed, Jenin and Kristin all bear witness the importance local donations bring to their cause.

“We can make a difference!” says Dr. Sayed, adding, “We are able to put unforgettable smiles on their faces. And in return we get eternal memories of happy moments.”

All are especially grateful for the ongoing support they receive from Sr. Kendra Bottoms of the SJMC ministry team and everyone at the hospital who helps with donations of money, medicines, toys and more.

Everyone can donate to this urgent call. “It is a reminder to the Syrian government that Americans do care,” said Dr. Sayed.

You can  help with cash donations or unused medicines (non-narcotic) that they can take in their luggage on their medical missions trip. Cash donations will be used to buy medications and other supplies for the next mission, so please consider donating at mycharityofchoice.com/campaign/profile/1056

Also, please visit salaamculturalmuseum.wordpress.com to make a donation.

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