February 17, 2017

Ghouta is like a big prison that punishes innocent people.

“My name is Faeyz Orabi. I am from Jobar, Damascus. I graduated from the faculty of medicine of Damascus University in 1994 with a specialization in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

I had to leave my clinic behind in Damascus in 2013 because heavy missiles were constantly targeting my town. I took my entire clinic and medical equipment with me to Ghouta. I was shocked by the state of the medical care there. There were about 600 medical assistants ( made up entirely of volunteers and students), 95% of them hadn’t studied anything related to nursing or medicine.

I decided to invest my energy into these volunteers and people that were forced to abandon their studies at university.

We opened the Sham Medical Academy in 2014 with courses in nursing and with time added courses in physical therapy, pharmaceutics, orthotics and prosthetics.

It hasn’t been easy for us.  We lack medical supplies, less than 10% of doctors are left in the city, and we are in constant danger because of missiles and air attacks by the Assad regime.

Entire days go by where our students can’t reach the academy because of the missiles. We have trouble printing out the notes they need for lectures because we don’t have electricity.

Can you can imagine a clinic or hospital without electricity?

We have patients suffering from pulmonary problems that don’t have access to the oxygen they need to survive. Patients with spinal cord injuries who can’t use pneumatic beds because there is no electricity.   

We don’t have the electricity we need to operate the machinery used for physiotherapy, operating rooms, ICU, monitors.

There are days when we can’t use ambulances because there is no fuel. We can’t even treat wounds from shrapnel because we don’t have antibiotics. The most basic wounds become deadly because we lack the medical supplies to treat people.

People are forced to break and burn their own furniture – beds, doors, windows – just to cook food or stay warm.  

Ghouta is like a big prison that punishes innocent people.

I witnessed the chemical attack here. I’ll never forget that night. There were hundreds of victims of the attack lining the street near the hospital. Most of the victims were asleep in their beds when the attack happened. The attack didn’t spare children, women, or men.

I worked until I couldn’t see anything and couldn’t stand that night

About 4 years have passed since that night and we are still living in this prison.”

This is our life.”