Syrian Dorcas volunteer in UN exhibition

Celebrated on 19 August each year, World Humanitarian Day is set to honour relief workers around the world. In Beirut, Lebanon, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has organised a three-day photo exhibition until 21 August. One of the photos represents the work of Dorcas. In the picture is Noor, a 36-year-old Syrian woman who works as a volunteer for Dorcas in Lebanon.

Photo exhibition
‘During the photo exhibition, women humanitarians are put in the spot light,’ says Vanessa Sarkis, Communications Officer at Dorcas in Lebanon. ‘The exhibition showcases the passion, drive and dynamics of female relief workers in the country. OCHA invited all women in the pictures to join the event so that people can meet them and learn about the challenges they face and the opportunities they seized. ‘This is a good opportunity for us to present the work of Dorcas and the work of women humanitarians who place themselves in the service of our organisation,’ says Sarkis.

Voluntary worker Noor
Noor, the lady in the picture, is one of the Syrians who fled to Lebanon when the war started. She attended sessions at the Dorcas Community Centre in Aley, 20 kilometres away from Beirut. ‘I was very punctual and I didn’t miss any of them. The staff at the centre then asked me if I would like to volunteer’. Noor hesitated at first because she didn’t know anyone and also it was difficult for her due to health complications at home. Her husband, who found a job as a carpenter upon arrival in Lebanon, is now unemployed. He was diagnosed with kidney failure and operated on for a transplant. He recently had an open-heart surgery as well. Noor herself has breast cancer.

Helping improve other people’s lives
Now Noor is very pleased that she took the offer. ‘Volunteering comforts me. It helps me take my mind off all the complications we face at home. For me, after I am done volunteering for the day, I’m full of energy.’ Volunteering can be challenging, according to Noor. ‘It’s hard to see a hungry child when food is considered to be one of their basic survival needs. I try to focus on the positive impact  my contribution has, knowing that at least these children aren’t hungry anymore and that they’re not on the streets begging for food.’ This way, Noor contributes to improving the situation for Syrians in the country. ‘I’m not in a position to support them financially, but that doesn’t stop me from doing other things that make a difference.’

Syrian refugees
The exhibition is held at a co-working place in Beirut, from 19-21 August. In the photo exhibition, several national and international NGOs as well as the Red Cross and UN agencies working in the country, participate. World Humanitarian Day is a day dedicated to recognise humanitarian personnel and those who lost their lives working as humanitarians. Since the war started in Syria, the population of Lebanon has increased by 50 percent. In Lebanon, Dorcas has several projects to help Syrian refugees. ‘Our projects are focused on food aid, entrepreneurship and therapy. We are also working on peace building to strengthen mutual bonds between the Lebanese and Syrians,’ says Vanessa Sarkis, spokeswoman at Dorcas in Lebanon.

19 August 2019

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