Day #7 of Za’atari Syrian refugee camp medical clinic: It has become a familiar routine for our Global Outreach Doctors GoDocs team to wake up early to have breakfast in Amman and then get on the bus for 2hours to get to Za’atari Syrian refugee camp at the Border of Jordan and Syria to spend our day of our healing mission. I had no idea this type of mission would require such complex bureaucracy but indeed we needed extensive patience for weeks to have our ID documents cleared by the Jordan government and still everyday as we pass through the Za’atari Refugee camp entrance, we have encountered stern looking security guards with weapons inspecting us on our bus.
But once we pass through the security check point and arrive at the medical clinic, we are warmly welcomed by numerous Syrian refugees who lined up hours earlier to be seen by us.
Especially, in front of our acupuncture clinic door, there are so many people desperately waiting for our acupuncture treatments. The first day we were there, people were somewhat apprehensive about getting poked by needles because they didn’t know anything about acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Once we treated a few people with great outcomes, the word got out among the Syrian refugees and other medical doctors who had been skeptical about acupuncture that it’s very safe and effective in healing all kinds of ailments Western Medical doctors have given up on treating. People have been bringing their spouses, children, elderly parents, siblings the next day for acupuncture treatments.
It got so busy. My colleague Dr. Gabrielle Steinberg who is a Canadian Doctor of Chinese Medicine and I have been pleasantly busy running around treating these people.
It’s been so rewarding because most of them get better and they are very grateful for what we do for them. The patients keep saying “Shukran” which means “thank you” in Arabic to me like a prayer while I insert needles into their bodies.
A 26-year old young man who had been a victim of a bomb explosion two months ago came to see me with his physical rehabilitation therapist on the first day of our mission. The bomb fragments have transacted his spinal cord at T9 which has paralyzed him in his lower extremities and he is currently on a wheelchair. He has been suffering from low back pain and knee pain which keeps him up at night. He asked if acupuncture could help in an extreme condition like his and I told him “yes” but he would need a series of acupuncture treatments to show improvement. I told him to come back to see me everyday for 11days in a row.
He indeed diligently keeps coming back to see us everyday with a smile on his face since then and tells me he wants to come with me to China. (He thinks I’m from China because I look Asian).
In the four treatment spaces in our cozy acupuncture clinic, Gabrielle and I treated 55patients in about 4.5hours (10am till 2:30pm).
The clinic ends around 2:30pm and when I get ready to leave the clinic, many of the Syrian refugee children come to hold my hand and play with me. We spend about half an hour playing and taking pictures together before the buses come to pick us up. Even having gone through atrocities in their life, many of these children have kept their innocent smiles and laughter.
I have never felt so rewarded as a medical professional up until this medical mission trip. Many of the Syrian medical students and Jordanian medical students who are helping us with translation have observed us practice acupuncture have been showing interest in learning Chinese medicine. I have told them to study it in addition to getting their Western medicine training in the future because it will make them a better doctor who has various tools to heal patients in a non-invasive way with little side effects. Nothing is better than being able to spread the healing of acupuncture in the world where people hadn’t known about it before and inspire the future doctors there to learn it.
The Syrian American Medical Society group volunteers (70 of them) left yesterday. Now it’s only the Global Outreach Doctors GoDocs group (12 of us) continuing the medical mission for another 4days at Za’atari Refugee camp.
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