When minutes are longer than hours

In a village near Mafraq, Jordan, not far from the Syrian border, Heba and Qasem share a house with two other families. The married couple live here as refugees, with little access to basic services or safe drinking water.

When Heba was near the end of her first pregnancy, she needed emergency care and was rushed to a nearby hospital in Mafraq. Despite the seriousness of her condition, and the risk to the lives of her and the baby, the hospital refused to treat her. They asked her to leave because the delivery she needed didn’t match their terms and conditions, and the couple couldn’t pay the fees.

Since November 2014, Syrian refugees have had to pay the cost of using Jordan’s public health facilities. At the start of the refugee crisis, they received free access, but the costs have become too much to bear for the Jordanian government. This means that Syrian refugees living outside of camps, like Heba and Qasem, are increasingly unable to pay for medical treatment.

Fear filled Qasem. He was worried about losing the baby and about the risks to Heba’s life. He was also worried about hospital fees he could not repay.

Yet there was only one possible choice. He rushed Heba to a hospital in Irbid, which agreed to provide the needed care for a price.

In a moment he will never forget, Qasem felt blessed and full of joy when he heard the first cry of his newborn baby girl, Sham, which means Damascus.