As the death toll from the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and neighboring Syria stands at more than 34,000, a local organization is working to help the youngest of the victims.
Phil Koosed and his wife, Tamar, started Save The Syrian Children, based in Sherman Oaks, seven years ago amidst the Syrian civil war.
The nonprofit’s sole focus has been sending emergency medical supplies to the hardest hit areas of the war in hopes of saving as many children as possible.
“We’re dealing with a situation where Syria, this area of Syria, has been bombarded…by the Assad regime and Russia for 11 years, and then on top of this, you have an earthquake that hits, something that was 10, 12 times more powerful than what we had here in Northridge,” Tamar told KTLA.
The makeshift hospitals in Syria are packed with victims.
“So… all the aid…that is there…has been donated by our donors, the various machines that are being used, the medicine, the supplies. That all comes from the donor base giving from over all the years,” Phil explained. “The sad part is that we’re going through supplies at a rate that we’ve never seen before simply because the volume of people that are victims that are coming in the door.”
Save The Syrian Children works with a network of doctors on the ground in Syria and has shipped millions in medical and humanitarian aid since 2016. But in the aftermath of the quake, the urgency is overwhelming to meet immediate needs and replenish supplies.
“There’s not a lot of assistance going into Syria. It’s a hard-to-reach area,” Tamar said. “Unlike Turkey, which of course the help is welcomed, Syria is experiencing a dire situation because there’s not a lot of international aid that makes into this war-torn area.”
Donations made to the organization help doctors work to save the lives of countless children injured and, in many instances, now orphaned in the wake of the disaster.
“It just shows the desperation of these families and what they’re going through. So, I think we can all come together and help the survivors and give them another chance after such hardship,” Tamar said.
Save The Syrian Children is run by volunteers and all the money raised goes to the cause of helping the children. Donations to the organization and its emergency earthquake relief fund can be made at savethesyrianchildren.org.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article misspelled the last name of one of the nonprofit’s founders.