Refugees with disabilities helped by Christians in Greece

Greece (MNN) — It’s not often we hear good news coming from the Middle East regarding Syrian refugees. But here’s some encouragement.

Syrian refugees await a chance for scarce affordable housing in Greece. (Photo and caption by Christian Aid Mission)

Syrian refugees await a chance
for scarce affordable housing in Greece.
(Photo and caption by Christian Aid Mission)

Steve VanValkenburg of Christian Aid Mission says the influx of refugees in Greece has highlighted the work of Christians there. “They’re helping the refugees that come through Greece on their way to Europe. Often, there are special cases, and unfortunately, nobody really deals with people who fall through the cracks.”

Christian Aid Mission recently shared a story of a man who had no use of hands or feet: he was carried on the backs of fellow refugees and then took a boat into Greece. A Christian Aid Mission partner, Bridge, has been helping take care of the man.

The question this man’s story brings about is: What is happening to the rest of the refugees who are sick or disabled?

VanValkenburg says, “The broader story with these refugees is that they don’t all fit the same mold. They’re not all perfectly physically able. Fortunately, there are Christians scattered throughout the world who are taking care of these types of people.”

He says that even for people who are not disabled physically–whether due to the violence or a preexisting condition–there’s a high chance they will be disabled emotionally because of the horrible things they’ve witnessed.

Later last year, HelpAge Interational and Handicap International did a study on refuges from the Syrian crisis. They found that 30% of the refugees in Jordan and Lebanon have specific needs, and that 77% of the elderly suffer from some sort of disability or chronic disease.

If these numbers are any indication of the condition in other countries where Syrians have taken refuge, then Greece, too, is a place where more specific aid might be necessary. Christians are already doing what they can to meet the specific needs of the refugees they come in contact with.

“Christians reach out in the name of Christ and they listen to [refugees]; they pray with them,” VanValkenburg says.

Along with prayer, Christians are distributing food, helping with housing, and funding more advanced medical procedures. Medical ministries are very present.

Syrian refugees with disabilities or major health problems are often overlooked due to the gravity of the refugee situation in general.

“Just because they are maybe crippled doesn’t mean that they should be discarded or not taken care of,” VanValkenburg says.

The medical needs of the refugees are immense. According to VanValkenburg, a 3-bedroom apartment will sometimes house 4 families and up to 30 people. That means when one person gets sick, the rest do, too. The risk is increased by bad nutrition.

“These people have probably far more medical needs than typically they would have.”

With such great needs emotionally and physically, the refugees realize their spiritual needs, as well.

“These people really have no place to go, and they really don’t have any options,” VanValkenburg says. “They don’t have any resources, and they don’t have the regular medical facilities available that people within a more settled situation would have. So, it very much reaches their hearts when they see that there are people reaching out to them and helping them and giving them specific attention to take care of their needs. That draws them in to heart-to-heart relationship with Christians who can then share the Gospel with them.”

Help Christians meet their needs in the Middle East and Greece.

“There are many, many ways that the Christians in the Middle East are reaching out in the name of Christ and serving and helping the Syrian refugees,” VanValkenburg says.

Christian Aid Mission is helping, and you can get involved.

“Christian Aid [Mission] is regularly sending funds to indigenous mission boards there in those countries, enabling them to reach out in the name of Christ, in terms of giving food and also providing medication and providing for the lodging needs that they have.”

To help, click here.