Nadia and Maria Jammal (Belarus, 32 years) came to Lesbos in 2015 so very different. Jammal, a lawyer and psychologist, and her husband, a psychiatrist, went to the Greek island to work as volunteers in the refugee camp of Pikpa. Nadia, like so many other syrians, came fleeing the war. And by the way, she lost three of her four children. However, meeting them changed his life. “I met with Nadia in the middle of a crisis of anxiety by shouting at her husband: ‘why aid to rescue the other children and not you saved us?’”, remember Jamm by phone. “That’s when I realized that I was the only volunteer who spoke Arabic and could join you in the mourning. The volunteers were in charge of the food, the clothes, of their diseases, but no one of the mental health”. Months later, the couple founded Humanity Crew, a oenegé that offers psychological care to refugees in Greece and form volunteers in Turkey, the USA and several european countries. For the work of this NGO, Maria Jammal received on Monday the International Prize of the Foundation Princess of Girona.
The first thing they did was to train dozens of volunteers. “We didn’t want to experience the same trauma that we live to reach, so we choose carefully those who were mentally and emotionally prepared for the volunteer. It is a very hard experience,” he explains. Currently, Humanity Crew is composed by 250 volunteers, has served more than 13,000 individuals and has provided 35,000 hours of psychological support in several refugee camps of Lesbos.
Among the most common disorders of the displaced population Jammal highlights the post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. “The sooner we meet the better so you don’t develop addictions, and they can be active members of their communities.” And that is the main goal of the young psychologist: creating communities and strong ties between displaced persons; to weave a net in which they feel safe. “Celebrate the festivities typical of all, we eat together… we Want to build an integrated society in the us to be a help. All they leave behind their support networks and we want to be here to not feel alone.”
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in Addition, Jammal emphasized in work since the independence of each one: “The ideal is that these people take back their autonomy: work, study, and be strong enough to return to their countries, if they are recovered from their conflict, to be able to reconstruct them. And to do that we need to invest in mental health”, account. According to the activist, the psychology receives very little funding because still no one repairs in its relevance: “it is Still a taboo and a new terrain in which it is not invested because it has no tangible results”.
From 2017, Humanity Crew has a clinic online that allows mental health professionals and volunteers providing support to distance without language barriers or geopolitical restrictions. “Not everyone can come to the ground. In addition, the work of a psychologist is not like a doctor who comes does hundreds of surgeries and can become. A psychologist needs to engage in a lasting relationship and that requires time,” he says. Dozens of experts spread in countries such as Cyprus and France, among others, cater to the refugees on a regular basis via Skype calls or Whatsapp. Jammal satisfied with the feedback received and notes that it is a good alternative to the high cost that implies to carry to professionals in the field. “We’ve found that is as effective as the psychologists who are in the field of refugees”.
The ambition of Jamm is always a step ahead. In addition to attracting more volunteers, aims to “retell the story of the emigrants smaller”. Between anti-bullying programs, therapy groups with women migrants and the clinic online, Jamm wants to publish a series of stories for refugee children in which they are the heroes, protagonists and have the journey off of the traumatic experience they lived: “we Want to tell in books what they say in the bank when you receive them: Only the heroes can cross the sea up here. You are a hero.”