Jordan Update: The Gift of Sight
07 September 2016
“I sold my wedding ring and earrings to pay for the birth of Mohammad,” says Alima, 24, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan. “Life here is expensive.”
She holds her three-month-old son in her arms while her 18-month-old daughter curiously looks through the purse of the Medair health officer. Both of Alima’s children were born in Jordan. She and her husband, Nahid, fled from Syria three years ago.
“I tell my daughter about our town in Syria, with a house like a castle, and quiet roads where we lived,” says Alima. “It was a beautiful country, and now we are homeless.”
Nahid and Alima arrived in Jordan with no money. They were able to live with one of Nahid’s relatives for the first 18 months, but the conditions were poor. Now they are living in a cheap apartment but they struggle to afford their living expenses because they are unable to legally work in Jordan.
“We still haven’t paid the rent or the water or electricity bill,” said Alima. “My husband has had to borrow money from a friend to buy things like milk and food.”
Even in the midst of such struggle, there are moments of happiness. The birth of Mohammad brought joy to the family. “When my son was born, I felt happy,” says Nahid, kissing his little boy.
But within a few weeks, Nahid and Alima knew something was wrong. “We noticed that his eyes did not follow movements,” says Alima. “We took him to a special doctor in Amman and he told us Mohammad had a congenital defect and needed cataract surgery for both eyes. The doctor told us if he didn’t get the surgery, there was a 90-percent chance he would go blind.”
Yet the cost of the surgery was prohibitively high for a family who could barely pay for rent.
At one time, Syrian refugees in Jordan received subsidised health care from the government, but that changed in November 2014. Today, Syrian refugees are often forced to take loans to pay for hospital fees. To support families in these difficult circumstances, Medair provides cash-for-health to cover the cost of childbirth and urgent surgeries. When we heard about Mohammad’s surgery, we agreed to pay all of their medical costs.
“When I learned that we could get the surgery for Mohammad, I was very happy!” said Alima. “There is no way that we would be able to afford such a large amount by ourselves. I hope that Mohammad can complete his studies and grow up to become a policeman or a teacher.”
Medair’s cash-for-health project in Jordan is made possible by Swiss Solidarity, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Global Affairs Canada, the Jordan Humanitarian Pooled Fund, All We Can (UK), Woord en Daad (NL), and the generous support of private donors.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.
Photo copyrights: ©Medair/Bethany Williams