As told by our founder, Dr Rola Hallam:
I was a Doctor in the UK when war broke out in my home country of Syria in 2011. I did the only thing I knew I could, and got involved in the humanitarian response. As war engulfed my country, Syrian doctors, nurses, aid workers and volunteers rushed to help their local communities. I joined them and my life changed forever in a day..
A day etched in my heart and mind and soul. A day when dozens of severely burnt children came flooding into a makeshift field hospital I’d helped to build in northern Syria after their school was targeted and bombed by an incendiary weapon; a ball of fire dropped from the sky, instantly killing 12 children and maiming dozens more. With the gut-wrenching smell of burnt flesh in the air, our small medical team and limited supplies were quickly overwhelmed. Reflecting back now, that day taught me three valuable lessons:
1. To save the lives of children caught up in the horrors of war, we must adequately support and resource their life-savers - the local doctors, nurses and first responders from the heart of these communities. The frontline healthcare workers who are risking their lives to save children, working where others can’t or won’t.
2. As frontline healthcare workers, we witness war crimes and tragedy. It is part of our duty of care to speak out against these grave violations; the premeditated bombing of children, their schools and their healthcare workers. We must call for the protection of civilians, for the upholding international humanitarian laws and the Geneva conventions that govern their rights to protection.
3. Saving children doesn’t start at the door of the hospital, it starts before, whilst they are still healthy and alive. Prevention is always better than cure. As medics, we need to work to better protect children so that they don’t arrive in our health facilities injured, maimed and dying.
I’ve spent the last 17 years specialising in saving children. As a paediatric anaesthetist, a global health worker and a war medic, the core of my work has been child health. And since my home country of Syria shattered into a million pieces, I have become a campaigner for the protection of children and their life-savers.
Now I am a mother, I want my daughter, and all children, to live healthy, hopeful, joyful lives - to not just survive but thrive. I believe children shouldn’t grow up in war zones, yet 1 in 5 do without access to proper healthcare. In the Middle East and north Africa, this rises to 1 in 3 - which is why we’ve started our work here.
I will spend my life working towards a world where bombs aren’t dropped on children nor their schools or their hospitals; to bring hope, health and healing for children caught in the horrors of war and return the sanctity of schools and hospitals, so that they are places of learning and healing, not death and devastation.
I want to inspire all of us to care and act to save these precious little lives.
I started CanDo to do so.
Together we save more lives.
We have the courage to imagine a better world, the resourcefulness to make it real, the humility to know we don't have all the answers, and the tenacity to stand up again after we have fallen. We work with the heart of a humanitarian and the mind of an entrepreneur; willing to try, embracing doubt, creating new solutions and treating failure as a teacher not an enemy. We bring a fresh, cando, bottom-up approach to healthcare in conflict settings, working in the most volatile places on earth to provide children with access to healthcare and saving lives. We are a global community standing with and for local frontliners. Together we channel resources where they have the biggest impact and can save the most lives. On the front lines, in local hands. With audacious openness, we can create the trusted, relevant and impactful humanitarian community that we all deserve.
Together, transforming humanitarian action.
Together, we CanDo.