Thank you for all of your questions. It's been a great discussion and we've really enjoyed chatting with you.

To find out more about International Medical Corps' work to support Syrians affected by conflict and to donate to our Syria response, visit

And follow International Medical Corps on Twitter and Facebook for updates

Thanks for your support!

My name is Zozan. I am a Syrian woman who has sought refuge in Iraq to escape the raging conflict between ISIS and Kurdish militias in my home town in Syria.

I studied English Literature in Syria and graduated in 2010 to become a teacher in a Syrian secondary school, where I worked until I had to leave the country.

I now work with International Medical Corps to support women and children affected by mental health issues and gender-based violence.

I am joined by Julie Davidson, International Medical Corps' Assistant Country Director in Iraq, where we deliver health, mental health, youth programming and gender-based violence services to Syrian refugees.

After four years of ongoing conflict in Syria, 3.8 million people have fled to neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, most of them women and children. Find out what life is like for those forced to flee their homes and how Syrians are working with International Medical Corps to help others cope with the impact of war.

We look forward to hearing your questions. There may be occasional questions that we won't be able to answer to maintain the safety of others, but we will try our best to answer them all as far as possible.

Our proof: Our profile on International Medical Corps' website & Our photos on Twitter

Comments: 740 • Responses: 19  • Date: 

iownakeytar364 karma

First off, thank you for doing such meaningful work. What you do is incredible.

Is there a lot of negative stigma around mental health and counseling with the people you are aiding?

zozan_imc263 karma

Thank you for your supportive words. We do sometimes encounter a negative stigma around mental health, but we use outreach awareness raising activities to sensitize (for want of a better word) some of the populations with whom we work, with a view to ensuring those that need our mental health services are comfortable doing so.

Dont_LookAtMyName220 karma

Hi Zozan. Moderator from /r/syriancivilwar here and have followed the tragedy in your country since the very beginning.

For Syrians who come directly to these refugee camps having experienced mortar and artillery shelling, have they developed symptoms of PTSD? If so, how is it being treated?


zozan_imc222 karma

There are of course many people who have experienced the situation you describe - including myself.

For those who experience PTSD and similar symptoms we use trained and experienced psychologists who provide one-to-one counseling sessions. I don't get directly involved myself as it is an area for the professionals!

dedoodah172 karma

It feels like so many people are having to leave Syria and the war shows no signs of stopping. Is there enough support in Iraq for all the people having to seek refuge there?

zozan_imc187 karma

It is a complex situation and it seems it will continue for some time yet. There has been good support from Iraq for people in my situation, but I understand that there are some funding gaps and that more help is needed. There are lots of good charities working in the region that could use more financial support!

cantpissoffmods72 karma

Thank you for sharing your story. Hope everyone involved in those support groups stays safe.

My question:

What do you think could help out the most at this point? More supplies? Or more coverage of this issue, with hopes of more help from other countries?

zozan_imc118 karma

It's my pleasure. I think all of the above would help! It my worry that as the Syria crisis continues to go on, and there are continued problems in Iraq, that eventually the money will run out and there will be less support. Another concern I have is that eventually people will think that Syrians are used to living this way, and they will focus their attention elsewhere. Although there are significant needs around the world, we don't want to be forgotten!

Perizene66 karma

Thank you for your work, you are doing great things.

I have a friend (18) who is a Syrian refugee, I want her to feel comfortable and reassured, so she can focus on her studies and persevere through this time, and achieve her goal of helping the Syrian people just like you. What advice can you offer from your experience about what I can do to help her?

zozan_imc82 karma

I am happy to offer my advice. If I was to talk to her I would tell her to keep studying. The more she focuses the better she will do. The better she does the more she will develop herself. Then she will be in the best position possible to help Syrian people. To get me through this time I focus on my work - she can focus on her study :)

saintcazorla61 karma

Do you have a partner or family that are directly involved in the conflict?

zozan_imc108 karma

Yes. Every Syrian does unfortunately.

arb053149 karma

First off, thank you so much for the work that you are doing.

One of the things that really concerns me is the children that have been caught in the crosshairs of this conflict, whether in the immediate conflict zone or in refugee camps. There are dozens of pictures circulating the internet of young children witnessing unimaginable horrors.

How do you see this impacting the longterm mental health of the younger generation in Syria? Will this result in a lost generation of Syrian youths?

zozan_imc73 karma

Thank you. Many people say that a generation will be lost. I hope this is not true, but I fear that it is. All we can do is look forward. These children need an education. They have a right to education. This will be a building block of a new Syria one day - I hope.

charlottebecker40 karma

Zozan, thank you for your hard work and perseverance. What is your role in supporting mental health patients in Iraq?

zozan_imc48 karma

I work as a Program Officer for both mental health and gender based violence (two separate things that sometimes overlap) programs in two refugee camps in the KRI. These camps have been occupied for over three years, so the need for our service provision has never been greater.

ohlookahipster33 karma

What are your favorite books, movies, and foods?

zozan_imc79 karma

Hamlet, Sherlock Holmes, fresh fish on the fire!

bozobozo32 karma

What is your favorite dinosaur?

zozan_imc81 karma

Easy - diplodocus :)

houinator30 karma

Am I correct in assuming you are living in the Kurdish region of Iraq? If so, what is the relationship like between the refugees and the Kurdish government?

julie_imc60 karma

Yes, we are both living in the Kurdish region. I am in Erbil and Zozan is in Dohok. The Kurdish Government has been open to accepting refugees and supportive of the provision of services for these populations. The majority of the refugees are Syrian-Kurds.

zozan_imc72 karma

From my personal perspective I feel the Kurdish government has been very accepting and supportive. I have not faced any problems finding work etc.

aroused_by_metal23 karma

Hello Zozan,

Do women who have suffered sexual violence experience any isolation from their families or is there an environment of support in addition to the work that you do?

zozan_imc28 karma

This can happen unfortunately, but it is not really commonplace. It does happen however. Both IMC, our partners, and the Directorate of Health provide support and case management.

Hubinator17 karma

What do you plan to do once this horrible civil war is over? Would you return to Syria?

Thank you for this AMA.

zozan_imc65 karma

Nothing would me happier than to return to Syria and help re-build my country :-)

Carolinannutrs15 karma

Thanks for your work and doing this AMA.

What do you want us to take away from this AMA? How can we help in ways other than writing a check?

zozan_imc21 karma

Please share stories about it, don't let the world forget what is happening in Syria, for instance by sharing stories about what is happening

alent123413 karma

can you come to a first world country to make a life with no threat of war?

zozan_imc90 karma

Being where I am now, although both difficult and challenging, allows me to work with people who need humanitarian assistance. Therefore, I am keen to stay and give 100% to help International medical Corps' work in the country. I hope one day I can return to Syria when there is no war.

Opti-9 karma

Thank you for your work. Please tell us how we can help??

zozan_imc19 karma

Hi. In truth the best way to help is a donation. Al of this work takes money. You can support International Medical Corps and organisations like us with a donation:

If this isn't possible then I'd really ask you to make sure people know about what is happening in Syria and surrounding countries any way you can! Thanks

charlottebecker6 karma

Does this role fulfill your desire to become a teacher? Are you able to implement teaching into your Program Officer position?

zozan_imc14 karma

I always wanted to be a teacher, and it is still important to me, but now I am committed to the work I am doing. I would like to work in this kind of role in the future. Hopefully in a peaceful Syria.

CrosseyedDixieChick4 karma

Do you keep in contact with people from your home town in Syria? How?

zozan_imc10 karma

I still have some family there, yes. We actually keep in contact by mobile phone, but the networks are not so good.

xHuge3 karma

Do you hope to ever return to live in Syria one day or do you think it would be possible in your lifetime?

zozan_imc9 karma

Yes. This is my dream. Until then I will work with International Medical Corps to help displaced Syrians and Iraqis in the KRI. Or maybe even a different continent - my passion is to help those most in need of help.