Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Irishwoman's Syria mercy mission

Iman Mujahed, trustee of Hand in Hand for Syria, at an aid drop for the public to bring supplies which will be transported to Syria

An Irishwoman has said her upbringing in her home country has led to her involvement in sending aid to Syria.

Iman Mujahed, who is married to a Syrian man, said people in Ireland are encouraged to "care about what's going on in the world" from a young age.

She is a trustee of Hand in Hand for Syria (HIHS) - a London-based charity - which was today loading up a container with medical equipment set to be transported to people who otherwise have little, or no, access to aid.

Mrs Mujahed said the medical equipment can be "the difference between life and death".

"We're trying to make a difference and ease the suffering of what's happening to some of the people in Syria," she said.

Mrs Mujahed, who said she would prefer her home county in Ireland not to be published, said she got involved in the collecting of aid due to both her husband's connections and her childhood back home.

"I'm actually married to a Syrian, and from an Irish aspect I think in Ireland you grow up and you're taught from a very young age to care about what's going on in the world. That's the way I was brought up anyway.

"I remember going to school and having collection boxes, so you're very aware that there's always people worse off than yourself.

"My personal connection to Syria is that my husband was actually from Syria and I've been travelling over and backwards from there for the last 25 years.

"So I've seen it go from relatively normal to people living with absolutely nothing, and I just couldn't sit by and not do anything about it," she said.

HIHS is a registered British medical and humanitarian relief charity set up by the UK's Syrian diaspora, many of whom are NHS medical staff, and who, for the last two years, have been delivering supplies and working inside Syria.

Mrs Mujahed said it will take approximately five weeks for the container of medical supplies - packed up today down an entry off Kilburn High Road in north west London - to arrive in Syria.

"When it arrives in Syria, our medical, pharmaceutical and humanitarian teams will have already sorted out the logistics of where it's most needed, and then it will be distributed to where it's most needed," she said.

She added: "I'm very confident that the aid we deliver goes into the right hands because Hand in Hand have been established for quite some time. It's not like we're going in there and we don't know who we're giving aid to.

"We have a very, very strong medical, pharmaceutical and humanitarian team and we actually find out where it's needed most and if they have the specialised doctors for example that can use the equipment in that area.

"We follow aid from the moment it leaves here until the moment it arrives in Syria, and I've actually seen that with my own eyes."

Mrs Mujahed said the last time she was in Syria was in February of this year.

She said she saw lots of babies born prematurely, lots of children and adults with respiratory problems, and lots of orphans.

"In fact, every single person I spoke to had lost somebody and had been affected in one way or another," she said.

Her spirits were lifted when she saw incubators in a children's hospital that had been transported from the UK.

On a whole, Mrs Mujahed believes there is a lot to do.

"The humanitarian crisis is beyond anything I've ever experienced in my lifetime," she said.

Adding: "I think everybody can do something."

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