Volunteers complete ‘humbling, enriching and emotionally draining’ journey.
A five-strong team from Bradford headed to the Turkish province of Hatay last month as they delivered aid to hundreds of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes in Syria.
Having raised more than £20,000 through fundraising efforts, before embarking on the journey, W-Childcare’s ‘Team Syria’ distributed almost 500 food parcels to those most in need.
Countless winter packs, baby milk, sanitary towels and more than 100 toys were also handed out in the relief efforts over a 14-day period.
Nazim Ali, general secretary of the Naqshbandia Active Development Association (NADA), headed the local group and explained what his first experience of the aid mission.
“Our visit was humbling, enriching and emotionally draining as we provided much needed aid to the externally displaced Syrian refugees,” he said.
“We personally covered our own travel, accommodation and food costs so that 100% of donations reached the needy.
“We visited countless families living in cave-like premises, partially built homes with no doors or windows, in disused factories with electrical wiring everywhere, even families living in an office.
“The winter packs will provide much needed support as the winter is setting in.”
Official figures estimate there are over nine-million refugees in neighbouring Arab countries of which almost one-million are in Turkey alone.
Almost 8,000 Syrian refugees have been crossing into Turkey per day however, due to the extreme situation on the ground, this figure has been multiplied recently with masses of Syrian refugees heading into Turkey.
Nazim added: “It is important we do not forget about the externally displaced Syrian refugees who are suffering from the conflict in their country. The humanitarian situation on the ground is getting worse.”
In addition to providing relief packs, ‘Team Syria’ organised a ‘Sports Day’ for 200 children at a free school run by the Turkish Charity for Syrian refugees, Ehli Sunne.
The volunteers purchased sports equipment for the school so that they can have PE lessons, with equipment including footballs, volleyballs, skipping ropes, basketballs and hoops, and frisbees.
‘Team Syria’ will also be financially contributing towards Ehli Sunne’s Free Pharmacy for Syrian refugees, a concept set up to provide further care to people with no medical support.
Asif Qureshi of W-Childcare and the Managing Director of one of the sponsors JK Travel Bradford added: “The abject poverty we witnessed was truly shocking, mothers couldn’t afford baby milk and as a substitute they were mixing water with sugar for their babies.
“We provided much needed baby milk for them. We heard horrifying accounts of the killing of the parents of the children with many children witnessing the gruesome murders and visibly looked traumatised.
“The toys, sweets and chocolates we provided put a smile on the faces of these innocent children which was enriching for us knowing we were the reason for those smiles and the very reason we worked tirelessly in raising vital funds.”