For two weeks now, I’ve felt proper sorry for myself, wallowing in a sea of tissues with a voice that’s no more than a croak and a brain that’s as sharp as blancmange. The world can feel like it’s ending when you run out of LemSip, and neither husband nor cat will get near you for the stink of menthol and eucalyptus.
Then I turned on the TV.
After six years of war, the humanitarian situation in Syria is catastrophic. Hospitals and medical staff have been deliberately targeted. It’s a war crime, and it has left hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to medical care, even as the bombs rain down.
There is no children’s hospital left in Eastern Aleppo, and about 250,000 people are estimated to be without medical care.
But that could change by Christmas.
The People’s Convoy is crowdsourcing funds to build an urgently needed new children’s hospital. Dr Rola Hallam, a UK-based doctor (founder of CanDo and previously headed Hand in Hand for Syria), launched the campaign a few days ago. Here’s a piece from Channel 4 News which includes her interview.
Laden with supplies for the new children’s hospital, the convoy will set off from London on Saturday 17th December for a seven-day overland journey arriving in Turkey. There it will meet the Independent Doctors’ Association (IDA), the Syrian medical/humanitarian organisation that is still operating in Northern Syria.
The supplies will then be used to refit an existing building as a new hospital, which will be the first crowdfunded hospital in the world. It’ll be in the countryside north of the city, and will serve 185,000 people.
The convoy is a collaboration of leading medical relief agencies, humanitarian organisations, medical workers’ associations and campaign groups, including Medics Under Fire, the Independent Doctors’ Association, Physicians for Human Rights, Doctors of the World, and the Syrian American Medical Society, as well as Rola Hallam and David Nott, considered one of the world’s most experienced war surgeons.
While governments fail to resolve the crisis, people can act, and you can help right here: The People’s Convoy.
You can keep up to date with the campaign and the convoy here: CanDo.
This is more than a convoy of medical supplies. It’s a convoy of hope, sending a strong message of solidarity and support to courageous Syrian medical and relief workers, telling them that they aren’t forgotten or alone.
It’s also a convoy of defiance: a strong message that humanitarians and human rights’ advocates will not be silenced or stopped from their life-saving work.
Please help spread the word, and give what you can to the People’s Convoy.
It’ll do far more good than a box of tissues.
December 18 update:
If you’ve already donated, thank you very much. The campaign exceeded its target, and the convoy left central London yesterday, as you can see in this piece from today’s Sunday Times.