A Journey of Self-love

Haneen’s inspiring mental and physical journey

From left to right (Haneen, Ruba Hussein, Health Officer, Amal CHV)

Haneen, a 32-year-old Iraqi refugee, is no stranger to adversity. Living with her older brother and mother, she grapples with diabetes and Down’s syndrome – and her family’s financial struggles make it difficult to get access to proper healthcare and support.

“My concern is that there are no available or accessible centres for Haneen’s case, and our economic challenges only add to our burden,” Haneen’s brother said.

Thanks to Medair, Haneen has received the support that she so desperately needed.

Haneen began attending one-on-one social and behaviour change community (SBCC) sessions with the Medair community health volunteer (CHV). During the initial sessions, she bravely shared her struggles with anxiety and the overwhelming sense of isolation. But, as these sessions unfolded, Haneen started to experience a significant improvement in her overall well-being. Bolstered by the encouragement provided during the SBCC sessions, Haneen discovered a newfound passion for drawing, using it as a powerful tool to relieve her stress and anxiety.

Haneen Shows her drawings.

During each session, Haneen eagerly shared her drawings with Amal, the CHV, signalling a sense of pride and self-expression. As a result, she began to take better care of her appearance, and found joy in going out for walks and treating herself to things she enjoyed.

“I feel a big difference now. I enjoy going out, and I can buy things that make me happier. I like buying makeup and taking care of myself. I feel I love myself more.” Haneen said.

In addition to her mental health progress, Haneen’s overall well-being also showed progress. The Medair Health Team developed a personalised plan for Haneen and initiated her self-care regimens to manage her diabetes. Diligently following instructions on exercise and diet, Haneen incorporated these into her daily routine. She started walking regularly to improve her health and effectively manage her diabetes. Thanks to her commitment to these lifestyle changes, Haneen’s hypertension (HTN) measurements stabilised. The holistic approach to health, addressing both mental and physical aspects, contributed significantly to Haneen’s overall improvement and well-being.

Haneen and her brother

Presently, Haneen is thriving and eagerly anticipates each session with Amal. Her brother gratefully noted, “Haneen has shown remarkable improvement over the past few months. After the SBCC sessions, Haneen started walking regularly and engaging in exercise, becoming more active. She now has more energy and enjoys going out. Her diabetes and blood pressure readings have improved noticeably. I can sense the joy that these sessions bring to her.”

The Medair community health team collaborates closely with its healthcare team to implement a behaviour modification programme tailored for patients with chronic diseases. This programme focuses on five key modules: regular exercise, adopting a healthy lifestyle, adhering to medication schedules, smoking cessation, and practicing self-care. By promoting commitment and compliance within this system, the programme aims to mitigate the risk of complications that could potentially lead to fatal outcomes.


With support from the European Union, the German Federal Foreign Office and Bureau of Population, Medair is supporting vulnerable refugees to overcome ongoing access barriers to healthcare and emergency treatment.