Tri-Staters traveling to Jordan to help displaced Syrians

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jul 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 07:26:58-04

CINCINNATI -- With at least three bags filled to the top with school kits and at least 17 more filled with medications, Haya Akbik and Katie Currie pack for a trip to Jordan they'll likely never forget.

Five years ago, Akbik's father went on a trip to Jordan to help some of the 13.5 million Syrians in need. He came back and started the medical/humanitarian group Atlantic Humanitarian Relief. Since then, he's gone almost 20 times.

The issue is personal for the family, which has its roots in Damascus, the Syrian capital.

"This Syrian crisis hit us hard," Akbik said. "We'd watch the news every day, we were very sad."

Now every time Akbik's father comes back, he's more motivated to get more medicine to more people. This upcoming trip will be the first for Akbik, her friend, Currie, and her mother, Basma Rabbat.

"I'm very nervous because I don't know how I'm going to do emotionally," Akbik said. "I just have breakdowns seeing videos on Facebook."

Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, the United Nations estimates 400,000 Syrians have been killed. More than 6.3 million people have been displaced within the country and another 5 million people fled the country, according to the U.N. Of those people, more than 650,000 are in Jordan, according to Atlantic Humanitarian Relief.

"They're not numbers," Rabbat said. "To us, each one of them is a live case and we have to take care of them."

This year, a total of 250 people are helping out on the mission trip, 104 of them traveling from around the world. They'll be helping displaced Syrians with items like baby formula, diapers, medicine and educational supplies.

"We're all so lucky here to be able to take for granted being able to run to the store and get some Advil," Currie said.

The weeklong trip is all donation-based. Everyone pays for their own plane ticket, hotel room and food.

"It makes you happy that you are giving something to someone," Rabbat said. "This is the least we could do for our fellow Syrians."