The following message was sent to our Facebook Group By Dr Bob Sangar. With his permission, we reproduce it here to inspire colleagues to help in any way they can. He got involved through Mercy Worldwide.
Please forgive the long post. I am currently 3 days into a week on the island of Lesvos. I was offered by a friend to do relief work here as there is a humanitarian crisis on the doorstep of Europe. I am working mainly at Moria, a former prison camp currently used as a registration centre for refugees. There are constant riot police on site and refugees all over the island. Circa 7000 arrive daily.
I have seen Immersion (trench) foot, acute stress reactions, URTIs, wound infections, asthma, gastritis, malnutrition, hypothermia and fractures amongst other problems. Almost all these people are fleeing conflict, terrorism or persecution (or fear of). There are many children. These are people who desperately need help and even a smile and courtesy are like manna from heaven for them. The people of Lesvos are amazing. They have little but are ready to share it all with the refugees. Like a lot of GPs I feel quite fed up at times with our job. I wanted a holiday but I left my wife and kids on half term to come here. My wife insisted I come as she knew this camp had no medical cover. However, though I miss them, I have never felt so needed professionally. I am so grateful that I’m a GP. There is no other profession that could see a feverish child, assess a woman with possible pregnancy loss, assess a knee sprain, treat a paronychia, manage infected eczema, diagnose a confusing rash as insect bites, treat scabies, manage hypertension or advise on switching antidepressants when a patient can’t find their current one. Possibly only a GP can manage this case load.
I have been near tears at hearing these patients’ desperately sad stories of drowned children or lost husbands; I have had to make spacers with a pen knife and a plastic cup; I’ve walked over crowded sleeping refugees resting in a dark condemned sports complex at 3am reaching people needing help. I have worked with people from Sweden, Iraq, USA, Norway and Germany (all unpaid volunteers) and felt like we’ve all made a difference.
Please don’t be scared to come. There is literally something anyone can offer. It can be harrowing but I have seen such selfless humanity this week that amongst the carnage of baton injuries, death, illness and hunger I have seen hope for all of us. I’ll leave you with a picture (obtained with verbal consent) of a beautiful baby whose parents crossed from Afghanistan to Iran (over mountains) then were smuggled to Turkey and then came by dinghy to Lesvos. His Mum said he never let’s anyone other than her and his dad hold him and that he really liked me. She was just being polite but he made needy old me feel like a million dollars for a few minutes!”