Micah Smith, President of Global Gateway Network and Executive Director Debbie Wheeler of Hands of Hope Northwest have combined forces and with God's help have opened up a channel that has enabled desperately needed medical supplies to help care for thousands of victims of the Syrian Civil War, including Muslims, Christians, internally displaced people, and residents of bombed and besieged villages.
With the assistance of David Maeir-Epstein, the CEO of IsraelGrants, with whom Micah Smith has worked in the past supporting nonprofits in Israel, an arrangement was made with an Israeli nonprofit to deliver a container with 10 tons of medical supplies to Southern Syria for distribution to hospitals and clinics.
Our team at first encountered barriers to the implementation of this visionary project because of Israel's customs duties and high standards of the medical supplies allowed into the country. With God's help, we found one organization that has developed the channels necessary to get the aid where it needed to go. The organization delivers aid to battle zones, caught between the Syrian regime forces and the opposition forces.
The Bashar Hafez al-Assad regime is using all means at its disposal against its own citizens – barrel bombs and chemical attacks targeting hospitals, community facilities and housing projects. The rebel forces are identified with Muslim extremists associated with El Qaida and ISIS.
But the humanitarian disaster is exacting a price on innocent children and families of non-combatants, as it has greatly impacted the cost of basic necessities. Diesel fuel is scarce and most homes are without electricity, refrigeration, running water, and sanitation systems. The average family income is $40 per month and purchase of water takes $20/month! The hospitals that have not been bombed are severely lacking in equipment, supplies, and professional manpower.
The State of Israel has been providing its first-class medical facilities to the wounded who cannot be treated in the local hospitals and clinics. The Israelis say that their religious and human values do not allow them to stand idly by and watch. Many Syrians, after 70 years of brainwashing, have a totally negative perception of Israel. However, when Israel allows 30-50 wounded children across the border every week for treatment in Israel's northern hospitals, those saved and their families will no longer believe Israel is their enemy.
Even more importantly, the communication and cooperation between GGN and HOH and our Israeli partners has enabled us to send exactly the supplies that are urgently needed. A detailed list of expensive medical equipment and supplies that we were desperately needed was provided to us. We were able to fill the container with only what was most needed. (One of the unfortunate errors of too many humanitarian efforts is that the supplies delivered are determined by what is in hand and not by what is most urgently needed.)
Micah Smith, his wife Nancy, and Maeir-Epstein were able to verify that the supplies that had been shipped from the Port of Seattle Washington in boxes with the Hands of Hope labels were indeed those being transferred into Syria. A week before the visit, it had been snowing in the area, but the day of our visit was sunny (although cold). The temperature plummeted at night and the task of transferring the supplies was not an easy one. However, the knowledge that lives were going to be saved warmed everyone's hearts.
Micah discussed with our partners the need for additional future shipments and the possibility of sending teams of medical professionals to spend 2-3 weeks volunteering. A maternity clinic for births and early childhood care for child and mother was set up in Southern Syria, reducing the time it takes for women to receive medical care. Previously, women had to travel 40 miles on a dirt road to give birth. There is a need for a wide variety of medical professionals, including medical technicians who could set up and train local staff to operate sophisticated machinery they may not be able to take advantage of otherwise.
Stay tuned for more such reports on Global Gateway Network's Life Saving operations in Israel, Syria, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world wherever needed.