Syrian Relief Program: SAMS and SEO

By Adil James, TMO

A poster displayed outside the venue for the SAMS and SEO fundraiser held in Troy on Saturday evening.

Troy–June 8th–The ongoing crisis in Syria has taken a toll in the lives and treasure of ordinary Syrians living in the United States.  To date, millions of dollars and many hours, days and nights of volunteer work have been funnelled to humanitarian relief efforts from expatriate Syrians in this country.

In this vein, there was a fundraiser this past Saturday evening, hosted by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the Syrian Expatriate Organization (SEO).

The theme of the evening was a demonstration of the sincerity and transparency of these two organizations and all related and interested Syrian expatriate organizations, which have endeavored to provide humanitarian and medical assistance to the Syrian refugees in and around Syria since the outbreak of hostilities.

The Emcee of the evening was Dr. Abdalmajid Katranji, who spoke briefly of the 8 million people affected by the Syrian war., and said that 150,000 people had been killed in the past year in Syria.

Dr. Katranji, like most of those who spoke or who were honored at the event, has personally made several trips to Syria to provide medical services to afflicted people–on display at the Saturday event were some pictures of people whose hands, horribly disfigured by war, had been repaired by Dr. Katranji.

Dr. Katranji speaks in support of SAMS and SEO at the fundraiser Saturday night.

There were approximately 20 speakers over the course of the evening, all of whom spoke about their own personal witnessing of the terribly afflicted Syrian people and about the courageous work of doctors and other humanitarian aid work, which is extremely effective in providing food, water, clothing, and other needed items to Syrian refugees deprived of all their possessions by the shifting tides of the Syrian war which continues until now.

The underlying power of the event was that time after time, speakers at the event spoke about  (and demonstrated their past actions in support of) the responsibility of the Syrian community to work vigorously to help itself when the outside world is ignoring the unfolding tragedy.

SAMS recognized several awardees who had done extraordinary work in bravely and resolutely providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian people in whatever capacity they are capable of doing so.  All of the awardees expressed their gratitude and humbleness on receiving this recognition, and each pointed the attention he or she received for the award to the many unsung heroes who had helped and supported the Syrian community without recognition.

Another vitally important point was that the Syrian government is actively persecuting people who provide humanitarian relief, not only armed rebels–therefore the work of these brave Syrians to help the people of their homeland are performed in the face of existential threats.

In the words of one awardee:  “It is my obligation to do this–it is not my choice–to relieve the pain from the people of Syria… Thank you for this award, I am proud of it.”

Through these awards and recognition the SAMS fundraiser touched on many many other organized aspects of the efforts of Syrian expatriates to support their brothers and sisters at home.

While SAMS has provided much-needed medical support, creating field hospitals and providing Western medical equipment, not to mention skilled doctors–SEO has focused more on providing humanitarian relief in the form of food and shelter.

Due to their good work these two organizations, and the many other sympathetic organizations, have earned the trust and sincerity of the Syrian expatriate community–SEO collected $2.5 million dollars last year, including $800,000 last year from Michigan alone.

At the fundraiser the results were unclear although it appeared that SAMS and SEO had collected in the neighborhood of $300,000 to further benefit the people of Syria who now suffer under a terrible set of burdens.


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