What in the world is…Adventist Help?
While you may already be familiar with Adventist Health, have you ever heard of Adventist Help? With an emergency hospital and comprehensive health clinic in Iraq, Adventist Help is a nonprofit organization that provides mobile, medical and dental care to refugees, particularly in the Middle East and Europe (in addition to Iraq, they have a medical clinic in Greece).
Ethan Bird, system director of wellness at Adventist Health in Roseville, California, has taken a team of volunteers to various refugee camps in Lebanon, Greece and Iraq to serve the needs of the community and to find out how to support them in the future. In their most recent mission trip, Bird’s team assisted in the camps just east of Mosul, Iraq, which serves over 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“Right now there’s no access to critical medical care,” says Bird, adding that the only options for medical care involve going to the war-torn hospitals of Mosul or traveling over an hour via ambulance to Erbil—where survival is unlikely because of multiple checkpoints along the way. Because of these delays and access issues, the risk of fatalities is increased.
Adventist Help saw the need for medical care in this community and decided to bring the clinics and the hospital to these camps where they were needed most. One thing that surprised Bird was the number of children he saw at these camps. “The average age can’t be more than 20,” he says. “I was struck by how much of their stories you can read in their faces. They impressed me as being traumatized, but hopeful.”
Adventist Help also provides essential psychological services for the residents of all five camps. Partnering with ADRA (the Adventist Development and Relief Agency), the global humanitarian organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, this initiative is a unique opportunity because it is the only field hospital placed where the refugees actually live.
Right now, Adventist Help needs short-term volunteers to work in the clinic and hospital, and welcome both individuals and groups. It needs doctors, nurses, EMTs and other professionals that are familiar with emergency departments. Adventist Help also needs mental health doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and staff—and nonmedical volunteers are welcome, too They ask for a one or two-week time commitment. And since it is a volunteer-run organization, donations are also warmly appreciated.
If you can’t hop on a plane to join Adventist Help in Iraq or Greece, you can also seek opportunities on a local level. “It’s a great way to dip your toes in the water,” says Bird. Humanitarian initiatives like Adventist Help are one of the ways we love to see how people are driven to do more, fueled by God’s love and the desire to help each other find health and hope.
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