How to empower refugees based on their skills. (case study specifically on medical services)
HOW WAS THE CHALLENGE AFFECTING THEM AND/OR THE PEOPLE THEY WERE HELPING:
Lack of engagement
- Camp residents often find themselves bored and depressed from the limbo situation they are in.
- Additionally, they lose touch with their professional skills. This is hugely frustrating and leads to disengaging from the community, psychological trouble and reduced employability.
- On the other hand, NGO & Volunteer teams face two very common problems.
- Many healthcare encounters for this population involve multiple languages (Arabic, Kurdish, English, Greek), which slows down the provision of care.
- Nurses and most other medical personnel only speak Greek. Most Team Rubicon volunteers and camp staff speak English
- No medical information other than what the individuals can recall when they take a health history after they arrive.
NAME OF ORGANIZATION:
TYPE OF ORGANIZATION:
Small international NGO
DESCRIBE THE TEAM:
Team Rubicon is unique for its effective empowerment of former military veterans. TR helps vets deal with readjustment to civilian life by engaging them as emergency response workers around the world.
In Greece they have been providing health & psycho-social support to refugees.
LOCATION OF ACTIVITY:
Elpida Home Camp: Near Thessalonki, Northern Greece
DESCRIBE THE SOLUTION (what actions did they take, resources they used):
Team Rubicon recruited refugees to be translators and some medical staff. Specifically, the team was able to employ a Syrian doctor due to a legal clause regarding legal liability of medical staff.
Staff can practice under the permit of the lead MD without obtaining their own permits.
The lead MD submits their diploma and secures a permit (incl.insurance). Refugee doctors are able to practice so long as they have submitted their doctoral degree to the Greek ministry. The formal EU medical procedure meant that medical assistance was sponsored by the hospital or NGO.
They have also arranged for small grants to remunerate the camp residents practising as doctors.
The case of Alia (named changed)
Alia is a 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. She had never walked before. Team Rubicon utilized their network to identify a Syrian physical therapist who could work with Alia and train the TR staff to assist with exercises between visits.
Having a Syrian doctor:
- facilitated communication and trust with the family.
- meant having access to a speciality not otherwise available
- Increased frequency of access to the doctor.
DOs & DON’Ts
Empowering residents to reclaim their skills
Combating boredom, restlessness, frustration and depression by giving opportunities to trained staff to use their abilities.
This gives an added level of empowerment and also is more ethical to employ people that are obliged to remain in a location rather than recruiting them only for free work.
CREATING AN ACCREDITATION SYSTEM
This is a pilot program and in future, they want to return and also assist refugee translators in obtaining actual translation credentials as a way of developing skills for work once they have left the camp.
CHALLENGE: CREATING LONG-TERM PRESENCE
However, there is concern that because this is a pilot that when they withdraw that they may not return even if it is found to be a success because this is the first foray out of disaster/humanitarian relief, short term projects.
IMPACT IN NUMBERS (How many people benefiting from this solution? How many deliveries did they make? How many classes? How many meals cooked?):
Currently in Greece, team Rubicon has:
- supported 125 volunteers,
- served 3600 Patients,
- logged 12876 hours of assistance
- saved $35,4592 USD in Costs.
- currently employ six to twelve volunteers and four rotating community interpreters (All camp residents).
Medical Records and Open Community Health Clinic:
- Having interpreters and trained Arabic/Kurdish speaking staff helping them record medical history allowed them to completed a history and physical exam on every resident of the camp and have gathered vaccination information on each individual. This data was then entered into a medical passport for each resident they can use when moving forward.
Why is it Smart Aid
- By employing refugees as translators, the team helps to provide people with a sense of purpose and empowerment.
- Their inclusive approach allows residents to take control of their health and medical history and conditions.
- Team Rubicon overcomes many of it’s challenges through networks and breaching language barriers between the Greek Health system, refugees and and wider community.
- By employing a wide range of actors within their mission – team rubicon encourages idea and skill sharing.
- This is a model that can be used in medical environments and non-medical environments.