The Foundation for Free Women started with the municipal health work in Rojava and northern Syria in 2015. At the time, the health care system was very poorly equipped following the war. To date, many people cannot afford medical treatment or medication. For this reason, even minor illnesses remain untreated, the symptoms worsen and can lead to a serious burden on people. Doctors have been killed in attacks on health facilities or in rescue operations, others have fled Northern Syria before the spreading war, and the Syrian regime has shut down some hospitals. The remaining doctors were and are more than busy, because responsibility for the health of the population rests on the shoulders of a few. The additional high psychological stress on people and the lack of heating means, especially in the winters from 2012 to 2015, led to an increased number of illnesses. Inflation and the strict embargo have left many people underserved, and refugees from Syrian and Iraqi war zones are at risk of spreading epidemics at times.
Women from several parts of the city in Qamishlo raised the issue of affordable health care for themselves and their children to the Foundation for Free Women in Syria. The combination of lack of knowledge and lack of financial resources for treatment put many mothers under enormous stress.
Since then, the foundation has carried out the following work in cooperation with the women’s communities and the medical association:
- We organize health seminars on various health topics, such as dealing with diabetes, heart or kidney problems, epilepsy, consequences of traumatic experiences, e.g. in war or on the run etc. Diseases, symptoms and consequences are explained in the seminars. Afterwards, the participants can better recognize and assess the diseases, knowing when a doctor needs to be consulted. But they also learn how they can support those affected in everyday life through nutrition, exercise, medication and psychological support.
- The training as a health worker (on 45 days, three hours each) is an extended first aid course. The women can then recognize diseases and assess their course, care for the sick at home with medical support, provide first aid in the event of accidents and injuries, give injections, apply infusions and bandages.
- In addition to the seminars and training for women, women’s health centers are being set up. Small centers where free care for the sick, medical checks, medication and health seminars take place. Sports courses and psychological counseling are also available in larger women’s health centers.
Local health work began in Qamishlo and Serê Kaniyê. Since 2017, this work has also been carried out in the cities of Derîk, the village of Tepke in the Derîk district and Girkê Legê. In addition, there is work in the refugee camps. The (training) offerings empower women in their self-determination and self-help ability. The topic of health is increasingly being discussed sustainably and holistically in society, and prevention is becoming increasingly important.
Within the framework of municipal health work, basic knowledge of economic, health and psychological aspects is made available to women, the monopoly on medical specialist knowledge is broken down and at the same time the remaining doctors are relieved. At the same time, the position of women in the municipalities has changed positively. In their women’s communities, they have been given responsibility for their community’s health care. They support families with sick, dependent or injured people in their neighborhood.
The project received substantial financial support from the Catholic Women’s Community of Germany’s Trier diocese and the work in the refugee camps through the World Day of Prayer for Women in Germany. Since the end of the project funding, the project has been financed from foundation funds.