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Shriners Help Children in Middle East

Shriners with a provider during the Cyprus Outreach Clinic

Emirat and Lubnan Shriners with Brock McConkey, CPO, from Shriners Children's New England

The mission of the international Shriners Children’s healthcare system is to care for as many children, from as many places, as possible. Improving the lives of children and families around the world is at the heart of that mission, and the driving force behind both the healthcare system and Shriners International, the fraternity that founded and continues to help support Shriners Children’s as their official philanthropy.

Over the last 100 years, Shriners Children’s has treated more than 1.5 million children from more than 170 countries. While Shriners Children’s has many locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, the healthcare system’s reach extends far beyond physical borders. The staff of Shriners Children’s routinely shares its compassion and expertise through various outreach clinics held across the globe in an effort to reach more kids from more places. Local members of the Shriners fraternity often help support these international clinics, and dedicate their time and talents in a variety of ways.

In locations with a strong Shriners International presence, Shriners help refer patients; get their local medical screenings, including exams, imaging and labs; transport them to appointments; obtain the documentation required for international travel, including birth certificates, passports and visas; support telehealth clinics and visits; and often also provide financial sponsorship for the families’ non-medical expenses.

“Shriners are great in-country collaborators for Shriners Children’s,” said Laura Kozloski, executive director of international strategy for Shriners Children’s. “The goal of Shriners Children’s is to help kids get care close to home, and the Shriners’ local knowledge and deep dedication to helping children is a critical resource to these outreach efforts.”

Outreach Clinic Held in Cyprus

For more than 40 years, medical teams from Shriners Children's have been traveling to the Republic of Cyprus, an island nation located in the Mediterranean Sea, to conduct outreach clinics. Over the years, more than 40,000 children from Cyprus and the surrounding countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, Jordan and Romania, have received care at the clinic. This past January was the first time since the global pandemic began that Shriners Children’s staff was able to return to the country, and members of Shriners International were eager to step up and offer support once again.

Shriners standing in front of a sign with provider and patient

Certified Prosthetist Orthotist Brock McConkey with Shriners and a grateful patient at Cyprus Outreach Clinic

Over the past four decades, Shriners Children’s has partnered with the George and Thelma Paraskevaides Foundation to hold these annual outreach clinics on the island. The foundation helps provide funding and logistical support for patients and families, and is led by Shriner Costas Paraskevaides, who serves as executive director. Paraskevaides is a member of the Alasia Shrine Club of Cyprus, part of Emirat Shriners based in Germany, which he helped form shortly after becoming a Shriner in 2016.

Several members of both the local Alasia Shrine Club and Lubnan Shriners, a newly-formed Shriners International chapter in Lebanon that is under dispensation, assisted with this year’s outreach clinic in Cyprus and provided invaluable support, including identifying and referring patients, and serving as interpreters when needed.

“The Shriners outreach clinic is one of the most important charity events for the Cyprus society,” said Paraskevaides. “The event is presented on all the local TV stations and all the other mass media and social media. The Minister of Health of the Republic of Cyprus visits the clinic every year to express his support and his gratitude to Shriners. The total population of Cyprus is one million, and the thousands of children helped by the Shriners organizations are important numbers for the Cyprus society.”

Female patient in wheelchair with mom and a clown sitting next to her

A Shriner clown jokes with a patient

The visiting staff members from Shriners Children’s were grateful for all the support the fraternity provided during this year’s successful outreach effort in Cyprus.

“The support of Shriners International in helping children receive the care they need is so impactful,” said Kozloski. “We are so thankful for the assistance of the Shriners who attended the Cyprus clinic, and those who helped from their home base in Lebanon. We couldn’t have done it without them.”