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Seattle Businesswoman Helps Syrian Refugees

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

There are now more than two million Syrian refugees and some local nonprofits are working to help them. Rita Zawaideh is a Seattle businesswoman who travels to Jordan every other month to bring refugees medical supplies. She started the nonprofit Salaam Cultural Museum in Seattle in 1996.

She recently returned from one of those trips. She and other volunteers saw thousands of patients and handed out hundreds of pounds of medicine.

She said she met a 16-year-old boy in her group’s spinal cord clinic who told her he’d been there for a couple of months. "I said, 'How did you get hurt?'" Zawaideh recounted. "He said,  ‘A  missile hit my home, I was reaching out to grab my mother and I realized I couldn’t grab her because I had no arms, they’d been blown off.’"

Zawaideh did similar aid work in Iraq, Lebanon and Libya. She said this situation is much more difficult because of the number of children she sees who are hurt and traumatized. Zawaideh’s next trip is in November. She says she’s looking for more doctors to join her.

Zawaideh spoke with David Hyde today.

Year started with KUOW: 2004