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 problems with my family, as they refused to let me return to Syria. My family was scared of me staying there in such a dangerous situation, and insisted that I should remain in Germany.
“In the end, I decided to go back to my country, to my workplace with SARC.
“I volunteer with SARC because I believe in helping people, regardless of their culture, environment or beliefs. On my first operation, a man – about my father’s age – thanked me while I gave him assistance. Every day, I anxiously waited for the next day to come in order to continue my work.
“During the last three years I have had many work choices, as I am a media graduate, but I did not accept the idea of working in any place other than SARC and humanitarian work, especially in light of the crisis in my country. I insisted on developing my skills in the humanitarian work field.
“Now, after many training courses and workshops with the organization, I am the Mobile Health Teams coordinator of the SARC Rural Damascus branch.
“Despite all the dangers, my work with the Mobile Health teams is wonderful. It is not only the danger from mortar shells or gunfire that we face. It is sometimes danger or problems with people we help, and this happens randomly. For example, during our last visit to a temporary shelter in Attal city in Rural Damascus – which shelters around 200 families – people insulted us because there was not enough medicine for all of them. One woman even attacked the Mobile Health Unit’s driver, demanding that we give them more medicine.
“I have learned a lot in my last three years as a SARC volunteer; I have learned about neutrality, humanity, loving one another, helping the needy, and how to make decisions at the appropriate times.
“I have also learned to be courageous and responsible. I am really satisfied with my work. Of course we face challenges, but they are simple. For example, there are problems between my family and I, because of the work-related stress and coming home late often, as well as them worrying whenever I travel to areas with unrest.
“Being a SARC volunteer in these tough times means that you must devote all your time to work; it means you have to be far away from your own life, your family, your friends, activities and hobbies. Despite all of this, I am happy, and volunteering with SARC has become my passion.
If there had been no conflict in my country, SARC would have still been the most fitting place for me to volunteer. Otherwise, my ambition is to work as a TV news presenter in times of peace.
“Today, a SARC volunteer is the Unknown Soldier who upholds life, humanity, hope, love, dedication and honesty.”
I hope that my country will return to stability and security. I hope that the displaced people will be able to return to their homes from inside and outside of Syria. I hope love returns to the heart of every Syrian. Let’s go back to our memories of the past and see how we are all the children of one country.”