Pediatric Medical, Dental Team, and Humanitarian Aid
MISSION TEAM LEADER: James Price
DVM in partnership with La Cima World Missions has completed our 2nd Aid Mission to Iraq Kurdistan. This mission was focused on providing Dental Care and much-needed food, medicine, pediatric medical care to the people who have been left on the run and homeless by IS (ISIS)
We were able to provide aid to over 5000 men, women, and children who were driven from their homes by ISIS due to your generous donations. Thank you to everyone who supported this mission.
Mission After Action Report as told by David Hale:
When DVM teamed up with La Cima World Missions the first time in September of 2014 for a humanitarian relief mission to Northern Iraq Kurdistan there was an element of flying by the seat of the pants. The mission went off smoothly and efficiently without a hitch. A new mission to Iraq in December 2014 brought with it a wealth of experience, deeper connections and a defined mission with a narrowed scope: To provide dental and medical care along with food to internally displaced peoples (IDPs) of the war inside Iraq who have been hunted by ISIS.
The Kurds, Yezidis and Christians of northern Iraq have been particularly affected as ISIS swept into Iraq from its northern border with Syria. “This was very different than any of our jungle clinics,” said Kentucky dentist Dave Sperow, Humanitarian Relief veteran and President of La Cima World Missions. “The IDP’s with whom we were working are normal, middle class working families that had their entire world turned upside down literally from one moment to the next. They were forced out of their homes on the risk of beheading, crucifixion or being sold into sex slavery.”
Mission leader and DVM founder James Price partnered with Sperow and his wife to provide dental work for the IDP’s. As with the first mission, doctors Joanne and Elaine from a local Kurdish Hospital accompanied the team to provide medical care with mission donor partners providing funding for all medications. The mission encompassed providing aid to six refugee camps in the Ankawa district of Erbil, in total containing thousands of IDPs from surrounding towns, villages and cities. With villages and towns sprinkled between Erbil and Mosul, the camps were a mix of cultures and ethnicities. Many of their health problems within the camps are related to sanitation, hygiene, weather conditions and essential food needs.
Some of the camps in Erbil are known to outside aid agencies which have begun to return with assistance to some of the larger camps, however many of the smaller camps, each containing hundreds of people, continued to be overlooked by these agencies, leaving them to rely on white rice or bulgur as final nutritional options. Some of the challenges with a mission like this is finding refugee camps and determining their needs. Many of these camps have sprung up out of nowhere, and the refugees have fluid locations making it difficult for the local provincial government to keep tabs on where the camps are and who is located in them. Determining the camps’ locations required the assistance of locals such as the mission translator, Gandhi, and mission driver, Amar. Once a camp is located, a recon is required to determine needs.
Some of the determining factors for meeting mission criteria for attention were assessing food supplies, sanitary conditions, and health of children. “When I went to one camp (it was a school) for the recon… when I walked down the halls it just smelled like people,” said Price. “Everyone was just sitting around, the kids were just laying in their rooms.” After DVM delivered food, that all changed. “When we came back a few days later with the medical and dental clinic the halls smelled like chicken and rice cooking,” said Price. “The kids were running around laughing and playing, and the adult men came out to greet us, people were so happy we were helping them.” These same camps with little to no food were provided protein and more food variety but in limited quantities by DVM.
About 25,000 pounds of food were delivered to these six camps. One of the most critical camps was Camp 3, populated mostly by Yazidis. People in this camp suffered serious malnutrition issues, given one bowl of rice or bulgur ration per person and wide-ranging hygiene and sanitary issues. This particular camp had not been visited by an aid agency or humanitarian Non-Governmental Organization for months. The DVM team partnered with a local food wholesaler for purchasing and had it bagged into “family size” portions. Each bag contained a variety of food that included rice, lentils, beans, tomato paste, cooking oil, and other non-perishables. The bags were portioned to feed a family of four for two weeks. The team also purchased fresh chicken to provide meat, which had not been seen in the camps for a long time.
“I am especially proud that we were able to help the people in the Yazidi camp,” said Mission Leader James Price. “They have not received any help for over two months... The kids were sick, some people had teeth that were so rotten they had broken off, and they had been living with that pain for months". At many of these camps sanitation, medical aid and sustenance were in critical condition. With many refugees having limited personal hygiene facilities, a high incidence of tooth decay was evident with severely decayed teeth needing immediate attention. Sanitation facilities were overflowing with human waste and had not been cleaned or removed for months.
Most of the camps had been moved from tent cities to hardened structures like parking garages, empty warehouses and old schools. Trailers were quickly constructed in empty desert fields which housed full families inside 12×20’ rooms. Each camp was reconned by Price, and once it was determined they were candidates for assistance, Sperow brought his mobile dental clinic, carried in from Kentucky, and begin extracting teeth. “For the dental clinic, I carried my standard mobile extraction clinic setup,” said Sperow. “We were not equipped to provide restorative care on this mission, but potential future missions may involve more comprehensive care.” Because of James Price's connections with local doctors, each camp had a dentist (Sperow) and a doctor (Doctors Joanne and Elaine) visit to address medical and dental conditions.
Every refugee who requested dental assistance was examined and treated. Because the doctors were from a children’s hospitals, every child needing medical attention was treated by local pediatricians. Any critical needs were referred to a hospital. “We purchased significant pharmaceuticals and the physicians used that supply to treat patients,” said Sperow. “If we didn’t have the medication they needed, the physicians would write a prescription and we would buy the medicine at a pharmacy in Erbil and bring it back to the camp and deliver it to the patient in need.”
These refugees had no money and no jobs so they were completely at the mercy of others to supply their needs. “These were folks who had never been living in conditions like these, and it was obvious that a huge psychological and emotional toll was being had,” said Sperow. Sperow said the living conditions were taking a huge emotional toll on the refugees, who had never lived in such conditions. “These were people who were in the middle of learning how to exist in a new reality and it is a very steep learning curve,” he said. The mission lasted 10 days through Christmas with team members leaving Iraq on December 30th.
The DVM Team is planning another mission to provide relief to the IDP’s as soon as financially possible