Drs. Fouad Batah and Izzat Carouba help earthquake victims in Syria
When Drs. Fouad Batah and Izzat Carouba, internists with Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, first heard that a powerful earthquake struck Syria and Turkey on Feb. 6, they immediately got to work to help the tens of thousands of people affected.
“We got on the phone, sent emails, used social media, messaging apps and word of mouth to reach out to people to gather donations and send supplies for the victims,” Dr. Carouba said. “People needed food like eggs, rice and milk. They needed coats because it’s winter there.”
The doctors are volunteers with the Saint Rita Foundation for Children, a charity that provides aid to support people in need and to assist children in building a better future.
“We got involved with Saint Rita a few years ago after we saw the good work they’re doing and their ability to send funds inside of Syria,” Dr. Carouba said. “There is no overhead in the organization, 100% of the money raised is sent to Syria. Every time we send something we get documentation to show the money was spent as directed.”
Drs. Batah and Carouba are partners at Michigan Premier Internists in Southfield and brothers-in-law. Both were born and raised in Syria and still have family there. They first got involved in Syrian relief efforts more than a decade ago to help those displaced by a civil war.
“Yes, you have an obligation to take care of your patients but in the back of your mind you are always thinking how can I help Syria? What do we need to do?” Dr. Batah said. “People are displaced, sleeping in the streets in cold weather.”
“It’s heartbreaking and it hurts more when it’s in your homeland,” Dr. Carouba added. “There are a lot of areas where we grew up that are now rubble. We know of people who are still missing.”
Two weeks after the earthquake devastated Turkey and Syria, another earthquake struck the regions. Dr. Batah said increased humanitarian aid deliveries are helping victims with things like food and clothing. He explained the need is shifting towards housing, and the Saint Rita Foundation is working to get donations to meet those needs.
“The big problem now is shelter,” Dr. Batah said. “People are working to build mobile homes so that the thousands of people who lost their homes will have temporary shelter.”
To learn more about Syrian relief efforts and the Saint Rita Foundation for Children, please visit strita.care