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Washington volunteers deliver aid to earthquake victims in Syria

Syria Turkey Earthquake
Ghaith Alsayed
People remove their furniture and household appliances out of a collapsed building following a devastating earthquake in the town of Jinderis, Aleppo province, Syria, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. The death toll from the earthquakes of Feb. 6, that struck Turkey and northern Syria is still climbing.

A network of volunteers based in Seattle, founded in part as a response to the Gulf War, is now coordinating deliveries of aid to earthquake survivors in Syria.

Born in Jordan, Rita Zawaideh lived in Aleppo, one of Syria's largest cities, for 11 years. Now back in Seattle, where she grew up, she runs the volunteer organization SCM Medical Missions.

Through Facebook and other social networks, Zawaideh is working as quickly as possible to find people around the Seattle region who are flying to neighboring Jordan. She asks them to carry supplies, like medicine, water purification tablets and gloves.

“We have people that left on Saturday. They took four suitcases with them. They've already arrived into Jordan. My team in Jordan is meeting them at the hotel,” Zawaideh said in a recent interview, explaining how the deliveries work.

Zawaideh said those supplies make it into Aleppo through a Jordanian charity. She said working with the organization’s contacts there is faster than trying to go through Turkey, where most of the earthquake aid is arriving first.

Zawaideh said people looking to help often think of donating clothes, but that there are other supplies that are more critically needed, such as tents and lanterns.

Another way to help in the rescue effort, Zawaideh said, is by simply donating cash, so that people there can use the money as they see fit to deal with conditions in the disaster zone.

“It's freezing and a lot of relatives and family we have are sleeping outside, or they've been invited by relatives into their homes, or churches, or to mosques,” Zawaideh said.

SCM Medical Missions has already used cash donations to buy baby formula and other supplies.

People who want to help can go to

Lilly Ana Fowler reports on social justice issues for KNKX. She previously worked for the nonprofit news site Crosscut — a partner of KCTS 9, Seattle’s PBS station. Reach her at
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