Caring for communities
We have 230 women volunteers operating 17 women’s centers across Idlib, Aleppo and Hama.
While women were part of some the earliest teams of White Helmets, notably in Hama and Daraa, in 2017 we developed women only teams in response to two needs that emerged in our communities. Firstly, a lack of healthcare provision due to the ongoing targeting of medical services,and secondly, the need for increased awareness amongst civilians on how respond safely to the dangers of living in a warzone.
The majority of the work of the women’s centres are focused on medical care and many volunteers have backgrounds in nursing, pharmacy and other related fields. Some of the more common services we provide include aftercare treatment for injuries sustained in attacks: conducting home visits to change bandages, sterilisation and medication. We provide maternal healthcare including pre-natal scans, home visits following cesarean sections where we offer glucose tests, nebulizer sessions and the suction of abysses. Finally, we run an all female ambulance service for both emergency cases and the care of long-term conditions. All this work is done in coordination with other White Helmet teams and healthcare providers. Underpinning all of these services is our ability to reach everyone -- particularly important in the more conservative areas of Syria.
In our center, we were able to prove that women can do a lot and have a lot power. People have been supportive of us and the role of the women in Syria will be much more positive than before. I’m optimistic about that.Maysaa Nader, volunteer at Al Atareb Centre
We provide community awareness sessions in homes, schools and civic centers on a range of topics including:
- Staying safe and secure before, during and after bombardment
- Coping with chemical weapon attacks
- Dangers of household management including risks of the increasing number of improvised heating and cooking systems inside Syria
- Dealing with the presence of unexploded weapons, how to identify them and how to respond.
This preventive awareness is saving lives. Time and time again we hear from people who attended the sessions the difference it made in their lives.
When we first started this work some in our communities were confused by the idea of women doing what was perceived to be the heavy and dangerous work of the White Helmet rescue teams. However, over time people saw the different services the women’s teams provided and now their work is trusted and celebrated.