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Indigo’s Medical Volunteers: Taking action for refugee health

Following on from our previous healthcare post , in this post we will be highlighting the incredible ways our volunteers are taking action for refugee health and well-being. From providing immediate support to empowering local communities, volunteers with our charity partners are filling gaps in the global healthcare system to provide vital support.

A medical volunteer wearing a white vest is checking the blood pressure of a female patient. The patient is sitting down and facing away from the camera.
Photo Source: Crisis Management Association

Providing immediate support

Our partners on the ground are working to address the gap in healthcare access for refugees, with Indigo’s incredible volunteers responding to the basic and urgent needs of communities on the ground. 

In FAST, qualified volunteer healthcare professionals are addressing the needs of refugees in Northern France. They deliver emergency first aid, provide basic health care, and distribute hygiene items to prevent the spread of illness. In overcrowded camps, ensuring access to hygiene and WASH items helps to combat the incredibly high risk of disease spreading. In 2022, FAST provided aid on 9770 occasions to displaced people, and made 658 referrals to ensure people received the specialised care they needed. 

In Athens, volunteers with Seeds of Humanity work to combat a lack of access to public health institutions that affect those without documentation.  Such work reflects their mission of assisting refugees and asylum seekers by creating equal access to health services.  

In their clinic, they provide;

  • a dental service

  • A gynecologist health service for pregnant women

  • General and pediatric health services to address various issues

  • As part of their holistic health service, they also provide services including physiotherapy, psychology, occupational therapy, and optometry treatments. 

3 dentists are leaning over a patient performing dental work. The patient cannot be seen, and the dentists are facing away from the camera. All three dentists are wearing white coats labelled with Seeds of Humanity
Photo Source: Seeds of Humanity

As part of their comprehensive response in Chios, volunteers with Offene Arme e.V. also assist with emergency medical projects. Aiming to fill any gaps left behind by other NGOs and governments, volunteers distribute infection packs for people affected with scabies and run a hospital transfer project that ensures refugees and asylum seekers can access the hospital on Chios. In November 2023, volunteers supported 131 patients with 130 taxi transfers between Vial camp and the Chios hospital; many of these patients were small children accompanied by parents. Watch our discussion with Toula from Offene Arme, to hear more about the local situation and the importance of volunteers for our partners. 

Founded in 2020 in response to the devastating Moria fires, the Crisis Management Association aims to ensure refugees and asylum seekers have access to efficient, dignified, and centralised healthcare in disaster zones. The CMA implemented the centralisation of a medical area in RIC Mavrovouni, Lesvos, where volunteers address chronic, psychiatric, and dental concerns through consultations and a central pharmacy. 

Also in Lesvos, the Boat Refugee Foundation provides primary and emergency healthcare in Lesvos and Athens. In Mavrovouni camp, they provide medical support to a population of 3,000 people; treatments address a spectrum of health concerns, from flu symptoms to serious physical and psychological complaints. In addition, their Mental Health and Psychosocial support teams address the unique mental health challenges of displaced people; their team focuses on increasing the strength and capacity of individuals in the camp community.  

Similarly, Lighthouse Relief provides emergency hygiene distributions to 250 families every month. To directly address mental health concerns for refugee adults and children, volunteers host trauma-sensitive safe spaces, daily classes, and recreational activities. Since 2016, more than 10,000 people (mostly children and teenagers) have taken part in these initiatives. 

Two volunteers are getting into a van, and walking away from the camera. Both volunteers are wearing vests sporting the Lighthouse Relief logo, with the volunteer closer to the camera also wearing a bright blue hoodie.
Photo Source: Lighthouse Relief

Collaborating for comprehensive support 

Our partners and volunteers work independently and collaboratively with other local NGOs and communities in the local area:

  • Volunteers with FAST work with local NGOs by triaging patients to additional services, providing first aid training to volunteers from other charities, and actively collaborating to ensure appropriate care is delivered. 

  • The Crisis Management Association complements its local teams through collaboration with international volunteers. CMA operates on the belief that working together ensures that the holistic care of patients is taken into account.

  • In Lesvos, the Boat Refugee Foundation also closely collaborates with other specialised actors on the island to ensure the quality and continuity of care. They refer patients who need specific specialised care to other charities and services to make sure that every person gets quality mental and physical health support. 

The benefit of collaboration goes beyond providing immediate relief. By working together with local actors, our volunteers and partners are building a comprehensive and sustainable healthcare system for displaced communities. Owing to the gaps in the global healthcare system, building a framework of support is a crucial step to ensure refugees can have increased access to the care they need. 

Empowering refugee communities 

Beyond providing high-quality medical care in difficult conditions, the Crisis Management Association also seeks to empower the local communities they are working with. They promote mutual economic integration by providing paid jobs to Greek healthcare professionals, refugees, and asylum seekers at all levels of the organisation. In their operations, they empower both groups to take a leading role in CMA operations, and have found this approach to be a massive strength in their work which has helped their staff find other opportunities in the field. 

Our volunteers’ work is crucial to helping refugees navigate health systems and articulate their own needs. 

Activities such as the workshops encourage families to maintain health habits, access crucial information, and advocate for their well-being and health concerns. By empowering refugees to understand and articulate their own needs, our volunteers help ensure refugees’ voices are heard. 

How you can take action for refugee health

Basic healthcare and being treated with dignity and respect is a fundamental human right that is currently not being met by healthcare systems across the world. Our partners and incredible volunteers are aiming to address the gaps in the system, but they need your help. 

By applying to volunteer with one of our partner organisations in Europe and Lebanon, you will become part of a collective of humanitarians dedicated to understanding and addressing the urgent needs of displaced populations. 

Apply to volunteer today, and create sustainable change for refugees in 2024.

Set up a regular donation to Indigo, so that we can continue placing incredible volunteers where they are needed most



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