Syrian Refugee Crisis: Birth from the womb of death

Syrian Refugee Crisis: Birth from the womb of death

Publication info

Posted
10/23/15

A week ago, all alone and in labor, Mariam, 37, rushed herself to the hospital to give birth to her tiny daughter, Aya. With her relatives and husband in Syria, Mariam has had few people to rely upon for helping cover expensive medical services or running  household errands.

“My husband had to return to Syria and when he tried returning to Jordan he could not,” says Mariam. Her delivery, by caesarean, was not easy. It is more expensive and not covered in any medical assistance for Syrian refugees. 

“The delivery cost me about $1,130, an amount I have nothing of,” explains Mariam. “This is not the first time I underwent surgery to deliver. In all of my pregnancies, I was told that my body is incapable of delivering normally. I have always had to undergo caesarean. I had to borrow money from my neighbors and some benefactors gave me some money. I also registered for cash assistance from CARE so when I receive that money I will return some of my debt. There are good people around here. If it wasn’t for good people I don’t know how my daughters and I would survive.”

Mariam lives on the fourth floor of an old building in Irbid, Jordan. Without an elevator, she and her daughter, Alaa, 4, have grown use to climbing the stairs. 

Sisters Alaa and the newborn, Aya, are not Mariam’s only children – but they are the only ones to have survived the conflict in Syria. “I had two boys, Ahmed, 12, and Abdul Rahman, 10, but they were both killed in the war,” says Mariam, with a deep disheartening sigh.. “I brought this blanket with me as I used to cover both boys with it when they were infants. I wanted to keep it as it carries their smell. I received a new blanket as a gift for Aya, but I do not use it as I want to continue using this old one so I feel that my sons are still with me.”

When the family fled to Jordan two years ago, Mariam carried other objects belonging to her sons.  “When my sons were killed, I took these coins from their pockets to keep them with me,” says Mariam. “I took their clothes off of them; they were covered with their blood. It was the most difficult moment in my life. I wanted to keep them as a reminder of my sons, but after we first arrived, when we were in Za’tari camp, my sons’ clothes, still covered in blood, were stolen from me. They were stolen by refugees like myself, by Syrians like me.”

As Mariam shares her story, her oldest surviving child, Alaa plays around the room, jumping and giggling, seemingly unaware of her mother’s misery. “My doll’s name is ‘Israa’,” says Alaa. Mariam reaches out, embracing her daughter, and explains; “I wanted to keep the doll as a souvenir for her. It’s all that remains of her dolls and toys in Syria. Our house was completely destroyed – I took this doll from underneath the rubble of the house. She calls it ‘Israa’, I don’t know after whom because there is no one with this name in our family. She sings for it all day long and before she goes to sleep, then she hugs it while she’s sleeping.” 

Like any person, but particularly Syrian refugees, Mariam has dreams for the future. “I wish to reunite with my husband,” says Mariam. “If only he could come back to live with us here in Jordan. We know that we, Syrians, have overburdened the country that had already been burdened with its own problems of poverty and unemployment. But we want to survive, we wish to work and provide for our children until there is a solution.” However, Mariam has simpler wishes for her present situation. “My little daughter now needs what any newborn needs. She needs diapers, medicine, and clothes. If only I could provide that for her, I would feel less worried for the time being.”

 

© 2015 Mahmoud Shabeeb/CARE

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