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Arts & Culture

Dentist On Syrian Border 'Will Not Forget' Yusor Abu-Salha, Deah Barakat

A hand made sign in Turkey
Will McInerney
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Just over the Syrian border in Killis, Turkey, a hand made sign left by Yusor Abu-Salha still hangs in this Dental Clinic. Abu-Salha volunteered here last summer.

On February 10, Razan Abu-Salha, her sister Yusor Abu-Salha and Yusor's husband Deah Barakat were shot and killed in their home in Chapel Hill. Deah and Yusor were both preparing to be dentists and felt called to help Syrian refugees in need of dental care.

Poet Will McInerney
Poet Will McInerney.

Chapel Hill Poet Will McInerney and Mike Mallah are traveling in the Middle East this month documenting the work of the Syrian American Medical Society.  He sent us this postcard.  It's part of a project called Stories with a Heartbeat.

Dr. Mohammad is one of the dentists working at the clinic in Turkey
Credit Will McInerney
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Soon after the Chapel Hill Shootings, this dental clinic in Rehanli, Turkey was renamed in honor of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha. Dr. Mohammad is one of the dentists working at the clinic.

Just before he died, Deah had an online fundraiser campaign underway. He had hoped to raise $20,000 to fund a volunteer trip here this summer—the campaign has since raised more than $500,000 and is funding this new clinic at the Al Salam School.

The clinic sees as many as 30 patients a day—all Syrian refugees.  The people who work there told McInerney that dental care is often over-looked in refugee settlements.  They depend on contributions from overseas. Last summer, Yusor Abu-Salha volunteered at a similar clinic in Kilis, Turkey.  She brought with her donated toothbrushes and supplies. The dentists there are still giving them to children—asking the kids to say a prayer for the person who donated the toothbrush.

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