With every day bringing new horror stories about atrocities against the people of Syria by government forces, Dr. Doured Daghistani desperately wants to help the people in his homeland. He is waging a campaign in Miami-Dade to increase local awareness of the tragic situation in Syria and to raise money to aid his countrymen who are involved in a civil uprising.
Daghistani has lived in the United States since 1982 when he came to this country for post graduate training with his medical degree from the University of Damascus. He spent three years in pediatrics at the University of Miami and another three years in pediatric oncology at the UM. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor before taking a job at Baptist Children’s Hospital in 1996. He is on the national board of the Syrian American Council and is a member of the local organization. Because of his position with SAC, he was invited to the White House in April.
“The reason I went was to learn what they are doing in general for Arab Americans and what they do for South Florida Arab Americans,” Daghistani says. “They were to hear from me about our priorities.”
He says they discussed the Syrian situation with a high-ranking official from the Obama administration. However, they did not meet with the President because he was busy governing and campaigning for re- election. Daghistani is critical of the administration’s response to the Syrian issue.
“This has been going on for 15 months,” he says. “The longer it goes on, the longer it is going to take to solve. How many massacres is it going to take before people stop this atrocity? Twelve-thousand people killed so far by United Nations count.
There are a lot of people unaccounted for, more than 25,000 people.”
Daghistani wants President Obama to use targeted aerial strikes as President Clinton did during the Bosnia conflict.
“It’s all talk, talk, talk and it’s frustrat- ing,” he says. “We say never again and never again.”
In the meantime, the organization is working to raise awareness with events like the rally held this spring in front of the Torch of Friendship on Biscayne Boulevard. They are looking to plan anoth- er rally in the next few weeks. Daghistani wants to get the public involved in hopes of forcing U.S. action.
“We went to Washington for the first anniversary of the Syrian crisis,” he says. “We did fundraising a few weeks ago from our local community.”
The group is also trying to build bridges with the Cuban community, believing that Cubans can understand what Syrians are going through because of Castro.
“Hopefully, we can get some politicians involved,” he says. “We have a few local congressmen and we’re hoping to meet with Sen. Marco Rubio.”
Recently the Syrian Sunrise Foundation raised $230,000 for the cause at a banquet at the Signature Grand in Broward. Daghistani says they’ve raised $6 million so far.
“They have a way to get the money to the needy people,” he says. “These people have no income. There has to be constant infusion of money. Right now it’s getting done by individuals and foundations. Eventually it has to be done by United Nations.”
Individuals that want to help can go to <www.ssfusa.org> and adopt an orphan for $50 a year. The SSF has an IRS number,” Daghistani says. “The government has this organization under the microscope and everything is legal.”