Search the website

Serving in a refugee camp in the Middle East

By interserve
  • Migration |
  • 585 People are praying for this

    As the days shorten and the summer heat begins to lessen, Interserve Partner Tom arrives at his new clinic in the heart of the refugee camp where he serves. Tom is a family medicine doctor and has been working in the Middle East for five years. He and his wife Ruth, who is also a doctor, have been working in these new premises since July. Two container-rooms that have been fixed up with AC and a generator to meet some of the needs of a camp population of around 30,000. The demand on the clinic is high and they stem the tide by operating on an appointment-only basis, which makes for long waiting lists. The needs are great and varied, but they do see some trends in patients. Many present with diabetes and hypertension caused by obesity. This may seem strange given the extreme poverty, but sedentary lifestyles and high carbohydrate diets lead to these complications. Chronic illnesses are escalated by stress and anxiety as well as inconsistent care. Challenging cases are often made worse by poor patient education and a lack of medical records from previous care – would you think to grab your medical records whilst fleeing for your life? Difficulty accessing specialist care, combined with poverty is a continual challenge. For example, Tom saw a five-year-old who hadn’t begun to speak, but there were no speech therapists to be found to treat him. Families of children with severe cerebral palsy have almost no services to help them cope.

    Would you think to grab your medical records whilst fleeing for your life?

    Ruth provides care for women’s health issues. One of the problems she frequently encounters is infertility. For the refugee women, this is a devastating condition because it is reason for husbands to divorce them or to take a second wife. Another issue encountered was new mothers abandoning breastfeeding very early on, so she began the Baby Well Project, which has been running for nearly three years and seeks to address a big need in the camp. A recurring story is that of mothers supplementing with formula because they believe their own milk supply to be inadequate due to the stresses and hardships of camp life. Thus begins a downward spiral of declining milk supply, abandonment of breastfeeding, no money for formula and threatened infant health. The project provides classes and ongoing support for pregnant women and new mothers with the aim of encouraging exclusive breastfeeding until the infant is at least six months old. Four local women have been trained to teach, address specific breastfeeding problems and monitor infant nutritional health. They work not just at the clinic, but also visiting the women in their tent homes.

    Tom and his wife are seeking partners to share the new facility and are in discussions with an expat dentist who may be interested in the space. They have recently been joined by a midwife who provides prenatal care and hopes to expand to birthing preparation classes. They would also love to provide more classes such as nutrition, exercise and back care. There are ideas for many potential projects but they have limited people resources. There are many obstacles to the work they can do – resources, finances, specialist care – but each day they do what they can, one case at a time, to make a difference to the people living on the camp.

    Do you have medical experience? Could you have a story like Tom’s in the future? Get in touch to explore the opportunities.

    Thank you for commiting to praying

    Your prayers make a difference! Thank you for praying to see transformation in the lives and communities of Asia & the Arab World.

    • Help us to share this post