LONDON: A Syrian refugee who traveled to Britain almost a decade ago and trained as a doctor has provided volunteer medical treatment in Ukraine for war victims, The Independent reported on Wednesday.
In 2013, Dr. Tirej Brimo left Syria amid the country’s brutal conflict. He was in his final year of medical school. In 2017, he graduated as a doctor in London.
Five years later, Brimo, now an emergency doctor in Cambridge, put his skills to use in Ukraine.
In order to make the trip to the Ukraine-Poland border and the city of Lviv, Brimo used up seven weeks of his work leave.
“In Syria I ran away. I was a student and felt helpless. In Ukraine, I chose a different destiny. I chose to be there and stand up for what I believe in,” he said.
He helped launch a makeshift medical center in Lviv that treated hundreds of Ukrainian refugees as they fled eastward.
Back in Cambridge after his trip, Brimo said: “At Lviv train station, the situation was horrid. Every day we got dozens of trains from eastern Ukraine — trains full of injured people, and trains full of refugees who just wanted to flee and leave everything behind.
“In my very first week, a paramedic and I saw 339 patients. It only took a few seconds into the consultation for these emotions to come out. They had been through a lot and they had seen a lot.
“Some of them lost their loved ones, some of them left everything behind, and some of them were so in shock that they were not aware of what was happening around them.”
The experience brought back painful memories for Brimo. “Sadly, the atrocities of war are similar. The horror in peoples’ faces, backpacks that have been filled in a rush, and children who have lost their spark, are some of the images that stay with me,” he said.
“War is like a nightmare you can’t wake up from while praying for a miracle that just doesn’t happen.
“As a doctor in the humanitarian world, our fight is different. We look after those wounded by all kinds of trauma, those who have been forgotten about, those who feel rejected by life and its atrocities.
“We hope that these few minutes of care will one day be remembered as a small light in our patients’ journey. Their journey to heal from all that happened.”
Brimo praised his fellow volunteers, saying: “In a clear message of resilience and rejection of war and its violence, we started our day with a smile and we ended our day with a prayer. A prayer that we hope one day will be heard.”