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43 South African doctors heading to Syria

26 March 2013

South African humanitarian aid organisation, the Gift of the Givers, is planning to send 43 South African doctors to one of the most dangerous places on earth, Syria.

The medical team is expected to leave on 12 April 2013 heading for the mountain town of Darkoush in the Idlib province near the Turkish border town of Antakya.

Writing from Darkoush, GOGT founder, Dr Imtaiz Suliman said there, “… is a greater sense of positivity as more areas fall into civilian control led by the Free Syrian Army that have repulsed (President Bashar) Assad’s troops from 3km away in December 2012 to 35km away now in March 2013 and in the process ensuring the rights of the Christian populated city of Yakubia are respected.”

Just six month ago the region was a stronghold of the regime and the people living there suffered greatly as opposition fighters tried to battle the Syrian army.

Some of the men who liberated Darkoush in October 2012 (Azhar Vadi)

The situation was also greatly affected by the last winter leading to the current spring. “The tranquility belies the underlying emotional and physical pain; almost every family has been touched by death, destruction, homelessness, displacement, injury, hunger, imprisonment, missing family members, torture, rape, abduction or the summary execution of a child,” wrote Suliman.

“And so here we are in Darkoush City, witnessing the realisation of a promise to a broken and oppressed people. The Gift of the Givers South African Darkoush Hospital takes centre stage in North Syria being the only fully functional facility in a 40km radius to the west, east and south. What we witnessed was nothing short of a miracle, awe-inspiring, Divine,” he added.

Two theatres worth R10 million constituting an intensive care unit, casualty, maternity, laboratory, x-ray, echo facility, pharmacy, wards and outpatient, all fully-equipped to handle any emergency have been set up.

The hospital has its own underground source of natural spring water. The kitchen and laundry are still under construction to be completed within a week. A stores facility has been set up, essential supplies have been purchased, and an ambulance has been donated.

The highly skilled South African medical personnel will be living with Syrians who have willingly given up their homes to accommodate the teams.

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