VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Helping Hana become a child again
October 3, 2013 by IRC Supporter Unknown
|Seven-year-old Hana is one of nearly 600,000 Syrians who have sought safety in Jordan, most of them in urban areas where it is difficult for refugees to find affordable health care. Photo: Kete Shabani/IRC|
By Tim Jenner, International Rescue Committee UK
Last winter Asu* decided his family had had enough; after their house was destroyed in fighting, he, like more than two million other Syrians, fled the country. It was a grueling odyssey, much of it on foot. Asu’s wife Yalda explains, “We walked for 10 days in freezing conditions; my son Hana struggled to keep up as he had a serious knee injury. His knee slowed us down by three days. He was too heavy to carry.”
Before the war, seven-year-old Hana had had an operation to fix his knee, but during the long journey to Jordan it worsened.
Like most recent arrivals to Jordan, the family was initially sheltered at the Zataari refugee camp, but the freezing temperatures were too much to endure. Asu recalls, “The conditions we faced in Zataari were terrible. And the most basic things were either in short supply or completely unavailable. We received almost no support to help us survive in such cold conditions.”
After 15 nights living in a tent, the family arranged to leave the camp and settled in the nearby town of Mafraq. “It cost 150 Jordanian Dinars ($225/£150) for the paper allowing us to leave. 150JD is a lot of money.” says Asu, “And we had arrived in Jordan with nothing. Most people cannot afford to pay to leave. We were the lucky ones!”
However, after reaching Mafraq, the family quickly realized that finding help for their son would be difficult. Yalda says there was a lack of information. “At first we were told that we could only access health services if we paid or had insurance, which we did not have.”
Since 2011, close to 600,000 Syrians have sought safety in Jordan, most of them now live as urban refugees in Jordanian villages, towns and cities. The influx has put a huge strain on local health care services, schools and housing. Food prices have increased and rents have tripled. Local hospitality, so generous and forthcoming at the beginning of the crisis, is wearing thin.
Fortunately for Hana, another refugee told his mother about an International Rescue Committee primary care clinic where women and children can access medical care, free prescriptions and counseling. An IRC doctor provided Hana with a check-up and medication to ease his knee pain. The doctor referred the boy to a specialist for further care. “Hana’s knee condition used to stop him play football with his siblings,” explains Asu. “Thanks to the IRC, he is able to be a child again”.
Hana’s knee may now be on the mend, but with thousands of other Syrian families unaware of or simply unable to access health care, a surge in refugee medical support has never been so essential.
* Names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy
How the IRC helps
The International Rescue Committee is working inside Syria and in four neighboring countries, providing support to hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced Syrians.
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