Ghadeer is 32, and is a volunteer first aider with Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Kiswe, Rural Damascus.

“I have been a volunteer with SARC for six years, since the beginning of the crisis. I wanted to volunteer to help the community.

“Things have changed here compared to earlier in the crisis, there is a big difference. Now we can reach more places, we have better access. And the accidents and injuries are different.

“The neutrality of SARC is a major factor in reaching people. One time I remember from earlier in the crisis, there was an attack on a hard-to-reach area. SARC were the only ones able to enter through the checkpoints. All groups understood that we must complete our humanitarian mission.

“When our team has come under attack in the past, I felt afraid and disappointed. We are like family. I feel like a sister to my team.

“When the call comes for us to go out, I feel happy and proud, because I can treat the people and help them get to the hospital.”

Sometimes the volunteers have to find other ways to bring help to people, if people don’t want to go to hospital.

“One lady was living in a shelter. She had upper respiratory tract problems, but due to her psychiatric state, she did not want to leave the shelter. We wanted to take her to hospital but she refused to go. Even though the shelter was not her permanent home, now to her it is her home and she could not bring herself to leave and go somewhere else, even to hospital. The patient was very troubled and distressed. So we found another way – we brought volunteers and medication to her at the shelter.”

 

The SARC health point and clinic in Kiswe, Rural Damascus serves both the local population and many displaced people. During the crisis, over 1 million displaced people have made Kiswe and the surrounding areas their home. Around 90 per cent of the patients are displaced. The health point operates a 24-hour service, sending ambulances to pick up sick and injured people.