Stories

Mama Bear.

In Lebanon, Medair is fighting the disruption in the uptake of routine vaccinations for children among vulnerable societies, caused by compounding crises including a massive explosion in the summer of 2020 at the heart of Beirut the COVID-19 pandemic and a steady rise in the socio-economic vulnerability of Syrian refugees and the Lebanese. These crises’ have severely affected the ability of many families to earn a living, leaving many struggling to make ends meet.

In the light of Lebanon’s downward spiral and the COVID-19 pandemic, immunization services were disrupted, threatening the progress in reaching children with essential vaccines. The compounding crisis Lebanon is facing, has further fuelled a significant decline in immunization rates and caused disruptions in health care delivery. This has left children vulnerable to diseases that are preventable through immunization such as measles, rubella and polio. 

“My kids are all I think about. I don’t live for me. I live for them. During the pandemic, not being able to afford their routine vaccinations, made me really anxious.” Says, Khadija.

Khadija, 43, is a mother of six children: five girls and a baby boy. She heard about the immunization project coordinated in partnership with UNICEF and the EU Humanitarian Aid. She has come to a health clinic in Nabatieh, that is supported by Medair, accompanied by her husband and children. Khadija talked about the struggles of being unable to afford routine vaccinations during the pandemic for her children, and how the crisis in Lebanon is threatening their livelihood.

Khadija, and her five daughters. Left to right; Amani, Nour, Maha, Nada & Hana at the Health Centre in Nabatieh, South of Lebanon.

“What can I tell you. It’s supposed to be easy to be a mother to my kids, but it hasn’t been. I quickly realised with the crisis at hand, I could not afford their vaccinations. My kids are all I think about. I don’t live for me. I live for them. For a while during the pandemic, not being able to afford their routine vaccinations made me anxious. I was constantly worried about them being more vulnerable to the coronavirus. I am not educated, but I know it would be much worse on them with none of their routine vaccinations. Adding to this, I had to make sure that we were taking all the precautions to avoid catching the coronavirus. During the pandemic, when everything was closed, my husband was still earning from doing some daily work, but at that point it was peanuts, considering the inflation of the Lebanese currency. Since then, every day brought a new struggle. I had to make sure I was rationing our supplies properly to be able to feed my kids daily and keep them strong. When my youngest one would get sick, I would spend the night-time crying by his bedside. I knew I had to make sure they were all healthy, safe, and protected, said Khadija.

“What is a mother’s job if it’s not to protect her young? Much like when you see a mama bear on television looking after her cubs. I waited for a miracle. Shortly after, I heard from one of the women in our community that the health clinic nearby was giving out safe and free routine vaccinations. Without hesitation, the next day I visited the health centre alone to verify the certainty of what I had heard, and it turned out to be true. Honestly, after talking to some of the staff members here and receiving more information concerning the routine vaccinations, my mind was at ease. This made me so happy. So here I am today, about to give my five beautiful daughters and my youngest one their routine vaccinations at the health clinic. I cannot explain to you in words how comforting this is for me,” says Khadija joyfully.

 

 

Medair’s support of the immunization project in the South of Lebanon is in partnership with UNICEF and donor Alwaleed Philanthropies. Medair’s support of the COVID-19 vaccination project is with the financial support of the European Union, Swiss Solidarity and private foundations, and with Gift in Kind from UNICEF. Support of the health clinics in the Bekaa Valley are supported by Global Affairs ­Canada in partnership with Tearfund Canada.