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Coloradans head to the Middle East to help those impacted by devastating earthquake

St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy is sending volunteers to neighboring Lebanon to help survivors
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Posted at 11:06 AM, Feb 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-12 13:19:13-05

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — As rescuers continue to search for survivors in areas of Turkey and Syria after a deadly earthquake, volunteers are heading to the region to help.

"The big country coming to the aid of the small country. The big family coming to the aide of a small family," Father Andre Mahanna said of the United States humanitarian aid efforts, including Father Mahanna's charity organization based in Lakewood, St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy.

When we spoke with Father Mahanna, it was in the middle of the night for him. He is already in neighboring Lebanon delivering aid with other volunteers.

"I went and checked on an area where a mountain, an entire ridge of a mountain fell down. The night of the actual earthquake it isolated an entire village from one side. It cut electricity lines, cut off the water lines," he explained.

Father Mahanna and volunteers drove around to deliver rations of bread to people who live in that area.

While volunteers are working long days and nights, there is still more work to be done. He called on local doctors to make the trip out.

"I'm Lebanese, my background is from Lebanon. My grandparents immigrated from Lebanon and it's in my heart to help this country and to help the people there," Dr. Susan Childress said.

Coloradans head to the Middle East to help those impacted by devastating earthquake

Dr. Childress works as a rheumatologist in Denver, but by this time next week, she and another local doctor will be in Lebanon.

"Whenever there's an event like this, a horrible bad natural disaster, there's always the urgent things: broken bones, the laceration, so things that have to be addressed. But then the chronic illnesses are the ones that seem to linger and need to be addressed after that," she said.

Through their mission, they'll help Lebanese people and their neighbors in need.

"Because we are neighboring to the Syrian country, it seems that we could benefit from Lebanon being an oasis or minor healing, all the way to extremely big, hopefully, medical miracles," Father Mahanna said.

While those in desperate need are thousands of miles away, he hopes everyone does their part in the U.S. to help.

"I am American myself, and I take honor, I take great honor," he said, "The U.S. for me, is always the Good Samaritan, is always the nation that comes in time and on time, in order to assist and make things better for nations and for people," Father Mahanna said.

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