Sunday, October 28, 2012

2006 Humanitarian Mission in Lebanon with Aman Malaysia

The year was 2006. Month of August. 
Our team prepared for a week-long a medical humanitarian mission to Lebanon, under the coordination of Aman Malaysia (Malaysia for Peace).

The  Israel-Hezbollah war which ravaged much of south Lebanon and South Beirut had left many Lebanese citizens dead.

My team of 4 medical volunteers -3 doctors and 1 medical assistant- with the Grace of God, volunteered to go to Lebanon soon after the Lebanese-Israeli war in August 2006. 

The Israeli air strikes  left approximately 1000 Lebanese, mostly Muslims. Much of South Beirut infrastructure was destroyed by Israeli vicious AIR attacks. 

Barely days after the Hezbollah-Israeli fragile ceasefire, Mukhriz Mahathir who had  played a major role coordinating many  humanitarian missions in Aman Malaysia, left for Lebanon with his logistics team, and identified Tyre, the city in the Southern most part of Lebanon, which borders with Israel, as our base for medical clinic. He personally looked into the logistics and accommodation; and looked for  potential locations for temporary clinic, before  we the medical team arrived. The risks of breach of a ceasefire between the Israelis and Lebanon were very high. Mukhriz deserved a special mention and earned our respect for his selfless efforts. He could easily have just sent a logistics team to settle things for him. He is one great young leader by example. God bless him.

While fellow Malaysians were preparing for Ramadhan, we were  preparing  to go to the war-torn nation. 
As volunteers we are always prepared for the worst. Lebanon has seen more than its fair share of war and peace since the 1970s-80s.

Departure to the war zone

Pic 2:
Sending off the team by Aman Malaysia Medical Coordinator, Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman.

Beirut International Airport was badly damaged from the bombings. Aeroplanes could not land. We had to land in neighbouring Syria, and made our journey by road and through the Customs checkpoints. With the highly volatile situation  around, security was tight.
Syria- Lebanon Checkpoint

Pic 4:
What was once a family home, not far from Tyre

Multiple Wounds  are common in war.

We set up Peace Malaysia Clinic in Tyre, which is near the Israeli Border.

It takes years to re-build a wartorn nation.

major highway bombed by Israeli air attacks

The Israelis bombed Southern Lebanon and South Beirut –Hezbollah’s stronghold. Israelis left North Beirut intact. The Druze and Christian ethnic groups mainly live in the northern areas. The Israeli bombings were selective and clearly targeted the Muslims and their residents. 

We also visited the Palestinian Refugee Camps of Shabra and Shatila, which I may relate as a separate blog topic.

En route to Beirut (north of Tyre), we enjoyed the beautiful coastal road and its views. We met Dato Abdul Halim, the Malaysian Ambassador to Lebanon and passed consignments of medical supplies to his office, for distribution to Lebanese people.

Lebanon‘s entire left coastline is the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon borders with Israel (a.k.a. Occupied Palestine) (south), and Syria (north; east). Lebanon is famous as a tourist destination for those from Europe and Middle East. 

beautiful and famous coastal rock near Beirut City.


Lebanon has a rich history.  The multi-ethnic pluralistic society makes this nation unique. Mosques line the main streets of Beirut.

mosque in downtown Beirut

It was once ruled by the Roman Empire and the magnificent Roman architecture still stands, albeit in ruins.

Breathtaking coastline

Pic 13 : The countryside

The Romans were once here

The majestic Roman pillar that stood a thousand years

We distributed medications and also ran our clinic for a week. A second medical team took over from us a week later. 
The Malaysian Defence Ministry sent its peacekeeping force sometime after we left.

I hope more Malaysians will come forward to volunteer. 

When we volunteer and experience and see first-hand the hardship of others, we come back spiritually enlightened and our hearts are filled with humility and gratitute for the peace we have in our homeland.

It is worth every time and effort to keep PEACE on our nation.


*pictures courtesy of Dr Abdul Halim and Dr Ahmad


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