Local doctors return from treating Syrian refugee children in the Middle East

Posted at 6:30 AM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 07:07:14-04

Local doctors are making a huge impact abroad. Two female pediatricians just returned from spending a week helping Syrian refugee children get the medical attention they need.

Pediatric Oncologist, Dr. Zeena Salman uprooted her life at a cancer hospital in New York City to pursue helping suffering children in the Middle East.

Salman, lives in Kent with her husband, but spent a week volunteering her medical expertise at two refugee camps in Northern Lebanon, not far from the Syrian border. She was joined by another pediatrician from Kent. The pair worked with a nonprofit organization called the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund that helps organize medical care, providing surgeries, medicine, doctors’ visits for refugee children living in the Middle East.

The doctors estimate they saw 300 children at these Syrian refugee camps. Many of the kids they treated had never seen a doctor before in their lives. So, in some cases, it was a routine checkup, in others, it was finding the right treatment for severe medical complications.

The pair worked out of a makeshift clinic that was built out of tents each day. The women had to drive two hours from where they were staying every morning, they’d work for roughly 12 to 13 hours, seeing anywhere from 50 to 80 patients, and then they’d make the two hour drive home again at night.

Salman’s husband runs the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund out of their home. The couple spends nine months out of the year working in the Middle East but Salman says you don’t need to be a doctor or even travel abroad to help make a difference.

“No matter who you are, even if you have $1 or $2 in your pocket, you don’t speak Arabic and you’re not a doctor or you can’t go there yourself, there are people from your community who can go and do the work. I don’t think you have to be a doctor to contribute in some way,” she said.

If you’d like to support doctors like Salman, you can visit the PCRF website here