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Jawad Yaqub

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The Battle for Minds in Syria

Posted: 06/02/2013 14:24

That people in Syria are dying is obvious: a casual eye cast over the newstands confirm what we all suspect. The society there is being torn apart through civil war - the damage being done to people's lives, their families, is quite horrendous.

So what can I, a digital geek, do about it?

Well a couple of years ago I started a project in my spare time, called InstantCBT. The idea was fairly simple - give people who've been stuck waiting on lists for essential mental health care here in the UK (for months, or perhaps years) a chance to get treatment immediately.

For themselves, and if necessary their family members they would get an instant live video therapy session with an accredited psychiatrist.

At the time it seemed like a money spinner (it wasn't), but it grew into something of a personal cause, a way to get people help they desperately needed. I used to take calls all times of the day and night - listening to people in distress, reassuring them, and guiding them on where to go next. Then a few months later, shortly after I had my first child, I passed control of the project to someone else and moved into other areas.

Then, just this January, a friend of mine decided to take a trip to Jordan. She was onsite near the border in a refugee camp for Syrians when she asked for help - via Facebook - of all things.

Here's what she said in the FB group:

Rita ~~~~~~~~~:

"Jawad hello from Jordan- I have talked to a number of pe9ople about your project web therapy , but what they are stating might make more sense is if we can train people here to be social workers or how to help their own people. Maybe do a session twice a week and have syrians that are here and are living in Amman volunteen that are working this. Their is such a great need for this besides all the medicial issues and no one is really working with the mental and how to deal wih all the disabilit that is taking place because of the hate and shame of what has hbappened to them. A father that is so upset he is not able to get a job is taking it out on his children and his wife. Children not listening to parents because they have brought this on - their is so so much do do and a daily influx of refugee coming into Jordan at 3ooo per day"

What would you have done?

As I had the digital infrastructure already to video conference, I though why not use it for helping victims and refugees in the Syria conflict - for free?

Alright, nothing is really free. Someone has to pay for the services, the therapists, etc etc, but if I picked up that cost, then for the few lucky enough at the other end - it could be a lifeline.

So I've reworked the project. We're starting with two training sessions, with Razormind (my company) providing the video links to train five people at a time in a Syrian refugee camp on how to spot and counsel people suffering from the conflict.

The therapists will be starting to train people next week. We got the message a few days ago, and for one I hope it goes well.

The purpose of this article isn't to ask for support, nor is it to encourage you to visit any of the sites. It's to let you know that such projects are happening, right now, in real-time, and that we can make a difference - we can help, wherever we are.

By the way, we're now also in talks to help with the Tahrir Bodyguards - the kind men and women who protect women from being sexually assaulted in the crowd of millions in Tahrir Square in Egypt.

Stay tuned.

 

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