SARC Stories

A new environment creates new challenges for psychosocial support specialists


By Penny Sims, IFRC and Vivian Tou’meh, SARC This psychosocial support centre Dweila, Damascus, first opened in 2008 to help refugees fleeing Iraq. Now, while it still supports Iraqi, Somalia and Palestinian refugees, the centre has seen a big increase of Syrian people needing help. Waad, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) project coordinator says: “Psychosocial support is as essential to human beings as food and shelter.” The centre sees many displaced Syrian people who need help to deal with stress, or simply someone to talk to. The volunteers have seen many children who are struggling to adjust to the… Read More »


The changes wrought on a Red Crescent branch by an ongoing conflict


By Vivian Tou’meh and Sana Tarabishi, SARC Prior to the conflict in Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) was a very different organization with a very different mission. It had been a significant presence in support of people fleeing other crises in the region. Branches close to the border with Iraq, for instance, had become well-versed in supporting refugees. The nature of SARC’s mission changed in 2011. The Aleppo branch, which has been involved in major operations since the outbreak of violence, was established in 1947. In its early years, the branch provided health services to local people – mostly children… Read More »


Building healthier communities in a time of crisis


By Vivian Tou’meh, Syrian Arab Red Crescent Abeer is pleased to be one of the hygiene promotion team: “I enjoy this work; especially I am in direct contact with people who need support and awareness raising in their daily life inside temporary shelters”, Abeer has seen tremendous change in people’s practices over the past month, “Those people have improved their hygiene and sanitation practices including washing hands after using the bathroom and before food preparation”. Abeer numerous responsibilities at SARC Tartous branch as a Hygiene promotion coordinator include conducting session discussions on safe hygiene and sanitation practices inside shelters for IDPs… Read More »


Volunteers who leave their real lives and professions to commit all their time to volunteering


by Vivian Tou’meh Abeer Shaker is a volunteer who decided to live separately from her family and join the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). Abeer, 28, has a degree from Damascus University, and she first volunteered with SARC at the beginning of the crisis. The crisis itself was the reason for her to take part in the humanitarian operation. “I know what it is like to be away from home. After almost a year of volunteering I had to travel to Germany because my family fled the war in Syria. I travelled for a short period of time and faced… Read More »


Volunteering and hoping to create a better future for all Syrians


by: Vivian Tou’meh Wafaa Malla Aref’s is a former Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteer who is now working in al-Battani Polyclinic in al-Raqqah. Since the beginning of the events in al-Raqqah, only men were allowed to volunteer with SARC, it was strange to see a woman volunteer, but Wafaa broke the rules and continued her work. Wafaa her life as a Red Crescent volunteer was drive by devotion and the chance to make a difference to the lives of Syrians. The work, she says, has given her the patience to deal with difficult situations. “I started as a SARC… Read More »


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