Matthew Coley is inexhaustible. This former U.S. Navy hospital corpsman, now working as program director for prosthesis and rehabilitation for Conscience International, has been working in Turkey since May 2018, distributing wheelchairs for those who cannot walk and strollers for children who are disabled. But he wanted to do more.
While there he began a search for an organization that identifies refugees who have lost physical limbs. Matthew found that organization and on August 13, along with two Turkish partners (one to create prosthetic devices and the other to offer clinic space), Matthew set up tooling equipment in a lab and the team began seeing patients the next day. They assessed individual needs then went off to Diyarbakir, Turkey where partner MediPro will make molds to properly fit prosthetic devices to each patient based on the complexity of their disability.
“This is an exciting time for the prosthesis and rehabilitation program,” Matthew writes from Istanbul. “It has been great to see how these partnerships have come together.” Already the team had gone to Adana, Turkey to supply wheelchairs to more than 70 disabled who were transported with their families from their refugee camp in Hatay, not far from the Syrian border to Adana. (See previous article).
The need is great. Many lost limbs in the Syrian war. Others have been injured in other ways or were born disabled. The Sultanbeyli area of Istanbul, alone, has some 30,000 refugees, about 10% of the total population. The partnering clinic—Multeciler-- is responsible for aiding this area with services from mental health therapy to vocational training for refugees so they can find work to provide for themselves and their families. But the disabled also need to be able to get to work if they can find it or just be able to move around on their own without having to always depend on others. That is where Conscience International comes in.
“This will take time, four or five patients at a time, but we want to start slowly and do it right,” says Matthew. “Once we have the prosthetic devices built, we will return to the clinic in Istanbul to make sure they fit the patient and they receive rehabilitation for effective use.”
The clinic already has a waiting list of about 50 patients. The team estimates it will take 10 months to serve all 50, and more will be coming in as word spreads about the work.
We need your help if we are to continue this much needed program into 2019 and the demand grows. Please consider those who cannot help themselves and make a tax-deductible contribution in any amount. You may donate on this secure website or by mail to:
P.O. Box 1163
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