University of Kentucky graduate leading medical missions in Ukraine

Ukraine Pic 14.jpg
Posted at 10:36 AM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 10:53:46-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Khaula Sawah lived what she calls a “pleasant” eight years in Lexington.

She called Kentucky home from 1991-1999, picking up two Master’s Degrees along the way at the University of Kentucky.

“I started first grade in Syria. I graduated from the college of pharmacy there before I can to UK I did my Masters Degrees in pharmaceutic science and then did my PharmD,” Sawah said.

“It was very pleasant. I really had a lot of friends there. I like the weather. I like the people. I remember every other week going out somewhere in Kentucky. The nature is amazing. I really enjoyed my time in Lexington.”

Sawah eventually moved to Cincinnati, doing clinical work and raising a family. However, her life changed in 2011 when the war in Syria unfolded.

“It started as a peaceful uprise but quickly turned into an armed conflict. I was seeing what was going on so I decided to go to Turkey.”

Khaula found herself in Turkey by October 2011, joining a group of doctors visiting displacement camps. They provided medical services to civilians as tensions grew and areas became more war torn.

Ukraine Pic 17.jpg

“When you know people are being detained or killed or forced to leave the country or their house has been demolished. It really affects you. I’m effected by anyone going through suffering. I always jump for help,” said Sawah.

The desire to help overseas spurred the founding of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations.

Sawah co-founded the U.S. version of this group, helping lead medical missions to places in need. She spent time back and forth from Turkey and her home country of Syria.

Her most recent missions have taken her to the most recent foreign conflict, the invasion of Ukraine.

“One of the doctors with USSM International went there for a visit and he told me there was a lot we could do to help out, at least to bring hope,” Sawah said.

“He told me we have a role here. We’ve learned a lot with the Syrian Crisis and we can help.”

Sawah first landed in Ukraine in March, working with local organizations to provide services to more than 1,000 people.

The second trip came in June, where the help came in the form of training medical workers on the frontlines.

“One was a workshop in mental health for healthcare providers and that was very impactful because healthcare providers need to have such training, especially in war zone. The other one was training for surgeons,” Sawah said.

“Right now when I contemplate back, I think ‘I can’t believe I did this.’ I do believe that every one of us have the potential to provide more than what we think. Just let your heart lead you. You have to think ‘yes I can do it’ and things just open in front of you.”

Ukraine Pic 3.jpg