He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.
Imagine that your spouse is having violent seizures about every half hour and no hospital will help them. You go to almost half a dozen hospitals, including ones supposedly backed by the UN medical program, only to be turned away because you are a poor Syrian refugee who cannot pay a hefty deposit for care, or they simply have no more room. These deposits are often the equivalent of 1-3 months of work for a refugee, and are unattainable by most. This would be unheard of in the West but is sadly not uncommon in Middle East countries. If you cannot pay at the hospital in some locations, they can and will deny you treatment even if you are dying in front of them. This is the harsh reality of the developing world. We have sat with several refugees with medical needs, and doctors refused to examine, test or treat them until the ‘receipt of payment’ was provided from the cashier in the hospital. What if this was your father, or wife, or brother, or daughter? You would want somebody to help them if they could. This is why we have felt compelled to begin a program to provide much-needed medical assistance to those most vulnerable refugees and impoverished internally displaced peoples we are in contact with, to show them compassion in the name of Christ at a time they are most in need of help.
The Details: How The Medical Assistance Program Will Work
- Who: Syrian and Iraqi refugees as well as legitimately impoverished or internally displaced nationals.
- What: Our team will provide medications or facilitate treatments in local clinics/hospitals for those with significant medical needs requiring immediate intervention or ongoing assistance to purchase medications for identified conditions. We will conduct our own basic field medical exams/check ups and track health progress with volunteer doctors advising remotely, in conjunction with whatever local clinical care they can receive. We seek to share the Gospel with everyone receiving help from this compassion program.
- How: People from our team will personally purchase medications or coordinate care in clinics to ensure that proper use of funds is maintained. Those being helped are refugees that team members are in direct, regular contact with on the ground, and have independent medical surveys completed by our team beforehand. Help for a single refugee can range from $30-40 a month to $2,000 or more for costly emergency room visits or ICU stays.
- When: Starting immediately. From May 2016 and onwards we will be seeking to use any donated funds to help with the budget towards these growing needs.
- Where: We will currently only facilitate treatment and medication assistance through local partners in countries we have a team presence in. There is the possibility to coordinate high-risk procedures to be completed overseas at US hospitals if needed, but we currently have no active cases requiring that.
- Reporting: Due to the frequency of cases we will probably try to maintain awareness on social media of current and ongoing efforts. As time permits a ‘roll up’ over a period of time will be posted here to our site as well.
The Background: Why A Medical Assistance Program Is Needed
Everyone knows that in the Middle East there are currently millions of displaced peoples, many now living marginal lives in foreign countries, trying to survive in makeshift camps or sharing rent with 3-5 other families. What many don’t know is that these refugees and impoverished people often have little access to healthcare services even though many children and elderly have conditions requiring regular medication use or even surgery. There are UN programs in many countries, including the ones we serve in, but those programs often only cover a portion of the care, and sometimes lack funding, can’t cover unregistered refugees (of which there are millions for various reasons), or simply not have room to accommodate more refugees in an already overloaded system. We believe that God desires us to minister to people’s physical needs as well as spiritual needs. We have found that just as Jesus spent much of His ministry healing the sick in addition to teaching, and showed His compassion for the poor in this way, we too have an opportunity to show compassion via healing the sick (albeit not in the miraculous way of Christ) and ministering to their needs.
This is why we have been increasingly involved in helping legitimately needy cases of refugees and impoverished nationals acquire life-saving medical care before it is too late for them. There are untreated epileptics who can’t afford care or medicine, sometimes they are the only ones in their family able to work, and when they have prolonged seizures the whole family is at risk. There are children with disabling medical conditions, congenital heart disease, and more. We have come across diabetics unable to afford their medicines, with blood sugar levels sometimes triple or quadruple the healthy limits, on a fast track towards death or disability. There are elderly with unmanaged conditions that can quickly bring them past the point of no recovery. There are people in pain daily because of infections they can’t treat, surgeries to remove possible cancerous growths they can’t afford, and medicines they can’t buy. We cannot just stand by and watch human suffering when we can do something to help with it, even if it’s as simple as helping them with their monthly medications or a hospital stay. It is our hope that through this assistance the love of Christ would be seen by those we serve in a tangible way.