MatadorU student on way to Kurdistan to help refugees


[Feature photo: Gosia Kruszyna]

MatadorU student Jennifer Gracey is about to depart to Kurdistan to help with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Below she shares some details of what she will be doing. To help her in her efforts, you can contribute at GoFundMe.

The travel dates are Aug. 4-19

I will be in the city of Arbil, Kurdistan working with refugees in at least two UN camps though I know of at least 4 in the area. One camp has refugees from Syria. The other is refugees from Iraq- mostly Mosul area as I understand it. For security concerns, even though Kurdistan is a safe zone and well protected by the Kurdish army, we are trying to keep the names of exact locations and name of the city on the down low for the time being.

CRI (Crisis Response International), the organization I volunteer with, has so far conducted a number of medical clinics, done food & ice distribution, provided basic supplies (bedding, clothing, personal care/hygiene products, etc) and trauma & crisis counseling in varying degrees since January. They’ve also done at least one (if not several) multi-day crisis & disaster responders crash training course with local citizens.

I don’t have specific details on what my team will be doing when we arrive and we typically don’t find out what the agenda is until after we land, assemble the full team and assess everyone’s skill sets/specialties. But, I can safely assume it will be in line with the activities that I listed above especially since we aren’t dealing with natural disaster clean up and recovery operations as was a major focus in Japan (3/11) and the Philippines (11/13.)

To further illustrate, in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, our team joined up with two teams of medical doctors (one team an NPO/NGO from Mindano another region in the country and one team from another NPO/NGO based in Macau.) Our team had one nurse, an EMT, an Iraq war Vet & security professional, a lawyer, the head of a early childhood development center, a water purification specialist and 2 operations/project management/training & development people. We provided administrative, medical, crisis & trauma counseling (for adults and children) and logistical security along side the doctors. Over the course of our 5 day medical mission, our team saw 3-500 patients a day not including the family members who came with the sick/injured. The crisis & trauma counseling team provided emotional care to about 3,000 people.

I imagine, work in the refugee camps will be very similar to the Philippines medical mission given the dynamics of the situation.

As for a break down of how the funding will be utilized:

Air ticket (including train transportation from home to the airport) from Tokyo to Abril is about $2,300 USD

About $500-800 USD goes to CRI and is pooled with other responders to cover in country housing, meals, transportation & operational expenses.

$300-500 goes towards climate specific gear (it’s hot.dry and +100F/+40C daily), supplies and medical vaccines that must be obtained before departure

The remaining funds is for misc. in country expenses (it’s cash only i’ve been told) and estimated loss due to currency exchange (I’m dealing with 3 currencies: Japanese Yen, US Dollars and Iraqi Dinar)

That pretty much rounds out to $4,000USD.

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