Assisting Refugees on the Move: Care-A-Van

by Circle of Health International
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
Assisting Refugees on the Move:  Care-A-Van
One of the Impact Fund's families
One of the Impact Fund's families

Dear COHI Family,


Spring is here, vaccines are being distributed, and there’s a new sense of hope floating around.. can you feel it?


COHI’s been feeling that positivity, too. With over $60,000 in micro grants distributed to migrant families in Texas through our COHI Fund, we’ve been able to see firsthand what can happen when communities come together to support each other. But with the recent sharp increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the Texas-Mexico border, we know that it’s not enough.


Thousands of children are being taken into Customs & Border Patrol custody each month, where they are met with poor conditions and overcrowding in the midst of a public health crisis. But their journey doesn’t end there. Once they are released, they must find their way to their sponsors all across the country. Sponsors who are all too often without the means or resources to support them during their asylum process.


Which is why COHI is using this newfound spring hope to fuel the launch of our latest programming, the Impact Fund, which will provide resources and support to undocumented and asylum seeking children and their families in Texas, California, and along the east coast. Through rent assistance, medical attention, legal aid, and mental health support, COHI is working to ensure that migrants are empowered to build their own futures.


In gratitude,

COHI Staff & Board

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Dearest CARS supporters,

Over these past several months, COHI has been so thrilled and appreciative to work alongside you all in order to provide accessible mobile health care to migrants and refugees wandering through Greece. We have finally reached a point that we feel comfortable with letting this vehicle drive itself. All it needed was a good push from folks like you to get the wheels turning!

The MamaMobile has found a new home in Drama Camp, located just northwest of Thessaloniki - Greece's second largest city. Our partners at Team Kitrinos Health Care will continue to operate the program and provide the maternal, pediatric and family health care that we and our beneficiaries so cherish. As an officially registered program, CARS will be able to continue its meaningful work without obstruction from Greek authorities. This will be paramount in ensuring a long-lasting and impactful program.

During our involvement in CARS, COHI has helped achieve the following:

  • Providing comprehensive health care to approximately 4,300 migrants/refugees.
  • Gathering the initial funding needed to initiate the program.
  • Locating and selecting the vehicle that would later become the MamaMobile.
  • Ensuring a safe space for camp population of over 6,000 women and children.
  • Procuring and delivering a total of $12,000 worth of medication.

This program has truly made a positive impact on a great many people. Unfortunately, the current refugee diaspora in Europe has no immediate end in sight which is why we so strongly urge our followers to stay involved and remain invested. Whether it be with COHI or another like-minded organization, the work being done in the field so greatly depends on folks like you. Thank you for caring about these people in need. While many of them may never know your names, they do know that there are people in this world who care for them. 

With the deepest respect, we thank you once more for your participation in this program. You have done a wonderful thing. 

Most sincerely,

The COHI Team


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Dearest Care-A-Van supporters,

We hope that everyone is doing well and doing their best to stay cool during these hot summer days. Another month is in the books for the CARS Program and we have lots to share and report with you all.

Figures: Below, we have included some impact numbers to give you a general sense of the program's statistical relationship to the relief effort:

  • An average of around 422 patients were seen each week with a total of 1,686 patients seen over the course of the month so far. 
  • 512 female patients were seen by female clinicians to receive sexual reproductive health care. 
  • About 150 patients were referred to us by allied organizations in the area.
  • The CARS team has remained around 6-9 people deep throughout the month. 

Health Risks: Here is a list of the common ailments and medical needs our team is facing on the ground:

  • Chronic Disease Management
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sprain, strains, and joint pain
  • Insect bites
  • Heat stroke + dehydration
  • Complications caused by malnutrition
  • Prenatal health

Programmatic Challenges: Right now, the CARS team faces several challenges. Amongst the largest of these challenges is the intense summer heat, the Ramadan fast, and the closure of EKO camp in mid-June. The closure has forced our team to work elsewhere and while we are still seeing many patients, the team was quite disheartened to see thousands of refugees - many of which they had formed strong bonds with - relocated to disparate parts of the country. Ramadan fasting has    

Ramadan fasting has resulted in a greater risk of heat exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. This, mixed with an extra hot summer in Greece, has led to heightened levels of health complications for refugees within the camps.

Closing Updates: The CARS team is now working in camps outside of Thessaloniki (the second largest city in Greece) and is currently reaching out to military camps to obtain permanent placement now that EKO is closed.  

As always, thank you all so much for supporting COHI's work and the CARS Program. It is because of your help that we are able to make everything I mentioned above happen. We are quite excited about our upcoming Syrian Midwife Technical Training Workshop coming up on July 11 in Gaziantep, Turkey. We will be posting a lot about it on our social media channels if you wish to learn more. 

If you have any additional questions, please contact Lucas as 

So full of appreciation,

The COHI Team


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New Ultrasound in use
New Ultrasound in use


Weekly Report from our In-Field Coordinator, Nathan Scott-Johnston. 


"Pharmacy: This week we have had a Pharmacist create a system and do a provisional stock check to remove expired medication and the medications that are restricted in Greece. This system should help pave the way for digitization. I will continue to work with this pharmacist on policies and procedures.

 Ultrasound: We have been able to deploy a portable ultrasound, through an extensive relationship built with a fellow medical actor in Northern Greece. This has proved a great success and was made possible with the help SAMS (Syrian-American Medical Society) providing a highly skilled obstetrician. Specialized staff permitting, we aim to run this service weekly or biweekly.

 Dentists. The dentists have arrived and they are providing amazing care, seeing a vast amount of patients referred by ourselves and MSF. We are also taking referrals from other camps and utilizing their MSF transport .

  1. We are working with actors to review procedures and in some cases create pathways. There is currently a shortfall in safeguarding measures by some actors, we are working on our policies for this and looking into sourcing training on this subject.

 The vaccination campaign of children has started, this has meant an increase in workload with a high number of febrile pediatric patients. They have been given, MMR, PCV, DTP-IPV-Hib-HepB

 Funding. Things are getting very difficult due to lack of funds, No real clarity or timeline has been provided on this despite several emails. There is a high feeling of concern amongst staff regarding the issue of maintaining long-term volunteers." 

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Care-A-Van Women's clinic outside of EKO Camp
Care-A-Van Women's clinic outside of EKO Camp

**The information provided below is mostly provided by Nathan Scott-Johnston, CARS in-field volunteer coordinator**

May 05, 2016 - Care-A-Van Acute Response Service (CARS) Programmatic Update

The CARS team continues to provide health care to refugees in Polykastro and Idomeni, Greece but is mainly stationed at the EKO camp between the two cities. The Care-A-Van vehicle has recently been serviced and is running smoothly!

Within the EKO, the camp's pharmacy has been organized and resupplied. Our partners at Team Katrinos are now searching for a pharmacist to oversee its operations. The goal of filling this position is to digitalize the pharmacy's inventory so that it can be shared electronically with donors and partners. 

Sadly, 3 of Team Katrinos core staff members have left due to a lack of funding. On the other hand, Circle of Health International (COHI) has maternal health volunteers that will be sent to Greece to support the program once they clear the vetting process. We expect this will occur in mid-May.  

The CARS team now has permanent housing accommodations! These spaces will be used for CARS staff and volunteers but have also been used to temporarily support especially vulnerable families before sending them to UNHCR for more thorough levels of protection.   

The EKO camp currently is supporting around 2,000 refugees. There have been reported incidents of violence and aggression but not toward volunteers. Greek authorities have responded by constructing a fence along the central highway along with placing signage informing refugees to relocate to other camps within the interior. These camps may be the next stop for the CARS program.   

COHI has secured a photographer/human rights attorney to work alongside the CARS team during the month of July. Her goal will be to document the team in addition to providing legal advice to all refugees encountered.   

For any more information about the CARS program, email Lucas at  


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Organization Information

Circle of Health International

Location: Austin, TX - USA
Project Leader:
Sera Bonds
Austin, TX United States

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