McMaster University

McMaster University

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Health Sciences

Victims of ISIS find hope in arrival of Canadian medical supplies

By Sean Meister
Published: August 12, 2016
Iraq medical supplies
Over $100,000 worth of medical equipment was delivered to Iraq. Photo courtesy of Majeed Sukey.

Kurdish victims of Islamic State militants in northern Iraq have a big reason to celebrate thanks to the efforts of volunteers in Hamilton, Ontario. A shipment of surplus medical equipment, gathered from around southern Ontario, recently arrived in the embattled region of Iraq.

The shipment of supplies is the result of a longstanding friendship between Lynn Dykeman, an assistant professor with McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine, and members of Hamilton’s Kurdish community, which is home to one of Canada’s largest Kurdish populations.

Dykeman visited northern Iraq in 2009 with colleagues from McMaster. From these experiences has come a shared dedication to do whatever possible to help those in Iraq.

In late 2015, a shipping container filled with over $100,000 of medical equipment left the parking lot of Hamilton’s Stonechurch Family Health Centre on a six month trip to Iraq.

The shipment included 23 wheelchairs, 20 walkers, 20 sets of crutches, 40 boxes of orthopedic supplies and a variety of other medical goods. This equipment was collected by volunteers from the Kurdish community and members of Dykeman’s church, St. James Anglican in Dundas. Volunteers went to several sources to find equipment, including hospitals and individual members of the Hamilton community. As Dykeman points out, there are a lot of wheelchairs and walkers going unused in Canada.

“It is remarkable the amount of good medical equipment no longer used and sitting in dusty storage rooms” she says.

Since arriving in Iraq, the equipment has had a significant impact on the lives of the population.

Majeed Shukey with the organization International Emergency Help in Duhok, Iraq has seen that impact firsthand.

“This shipment covered a huge gap, because we have a lack here in everything for those in medical need,” says Shukey. “These supplies enable them to walk or sit and feel safety.”

One girl in particular was overwhelmed with the arrival of the much needed equipment. Shukey says she was wishing and hoping for a wheelchair and cried with joy when one arrived for her.

“When I was in Iraq, there was such a need for medical equipment,” says Dykeman. “It is very important that we send as much equipment as we can.”

Collection for a second shipment is ongoing in Hamilton. Dykeman is hoping to send this next container in November 2016. Wheelchairs, walkers, canes and crutches are in high demand. Monetary donations are also important, as the cost of a shipping container and transportation can exceed $15,000. Individuals and groups wishing to donate medical supplies can contact Dykeman directly by email (lynnd@cogeco.ca). Monetary donations can be made online: https://www.youcaring.com/those-who-have-been-disabled-in-the-war-536419

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