Stone GP aiming to raise awareness of Syrian refugee plight after travelling to camps

Rowena Miligan with other volunteers

A Stone GP says going on a mission to help Syrian refugees has opened her eyes to what people are going through.

31-year-old Rowena Milligan says she felt compelled to help after seeing shocking scenes of families escaping violence, and signed up to an Atlantic Humanitarian Relief trip to Jordan, as part of a team of volunteers.

The mum of one, who is based at Stone’s Mansion House Surgery, says while people are now living safely, some do not have access to things like running water. 

Many are also still traumatised by that they have experienced.

She has now returned to the UK after spending a week working in clinics, treating hundreds of people with medicines she had funded through donations.

She said: "I think I was expecting the high intensity, I had mentally prepared for myself, but I didn't expect a complete cultural change.

"There was a real lack of resources for the refugees, from a point of view of if the patients needed to be referred to a specialist, that was not available."

Rowena said that her perception of life in the refugee camps was also altered by her experience.

She said: "The big Zaatari camp is so huge that they had to divide it into sections, which each have a clinic and a school, and is governed by a body made up of refugees within it.

"You expect UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) would be completely running the camp and controlling everything that happens, but that is not always the case.

"People see pictures of these nice looking white tents that seem quite robust and think it seems not too bad, but actually it is squalor what some have inside.

"Basic sanitation is not ideal, especially for children."

After spending time at various clinics, helping both refugees and Jordanians who were unable to access healthcare, Rowena says she is determined to return.

"I think the cases you couldn't help are the ones that stick with you," she said.

"I have just got to try to mentally adjust myself to realise that I did do some good, and not keep focusing on the negatives."  

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