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Mercy Compassion

Nursing Faculty Provide Aid to Displaced Syrians

Since 2011, conflict has devastated Syria. The civil war has forced 5.3 million people out of the Middle Eastern country—half under the age of 18—many landing in Turkey, Iraq, and North Africa.


By Amanda Mayotte ’15

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ursing faculty members Anne Hartman and Darcey Rosenblum couldn’t stand idle as the war passed its sixth year, so the duo packed up and traveled to Greece in July 2017. Both volunteered at Ritsona Refugee Camp, located 50 miles north of Athens. Hartman spent her time with the preschool program while Rosenblum worked in the women’s center.

“My greatest struggle was seeing the enormous amount of hardship these kids have survived,” Hartman says about the three-week trip. “They were born into a war zone, then survived a horrendous and dangerous journey to arrive in Europe. Now that they have arrived in Greece, their family lives in a refurbished shipping container, and they are stuck here for years because no country in the world wants to take them in.”

Maintaining as much normality as possible, Hartman and the children spent their days doing the same things preschoolers around the world love to do: jump rope, hula hoop, sing songs, blow bubbles, craft, play house, and watch movies. Adults set up shops around the camp, selling coffee and food.

“The main lesson I came home with is that these people are just like me,” Hartman says. “They want the same things for their children that I want for mine—peace, health, happiness. They owned homes and had careers before the war started, and they did not choose any of this.”

Moved by the experience, Hartman and Rosenblum initiated plans for a similar volunteer trip for MMU faculty, staff, and students—expected to take place in the summer of 2019.

“I learned so much from spending time in the camp and meeting the people we hear so much about in the news,” Hartman says. “Having been there, I feel that it is safe and would be a great service-learning experience for our campus. It aligns so well with our Critical Concerns—especially immigration, racism, and women.” ■


“These people are just like me,” Hartman says. “They want the same things for their children that I want for mine—peace, health, happiness.”


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