Routine in a state of emergency

by Nora Parasie/LKO, 2015/08/24

After her five-week-long help commitment for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, our coordinator, Nora Parasie looks back and remembers one day in camp number 15. A day full of big distress and small gleams of hope:

Part 2: One day in camp number 15

“After our morning team meeting we load our cars. Today, I’m going to camp number 15, together with our three doctors, two pharmacists, our Field Officer Deeb and translator Fatima. Our midwife Sandy is in another camp, together with assistant coordinator, Nader.

After only a few minutes, we have left the town Zahlé and are in another world. We pass makeshift tent settlements erected on fields, on which Syrian war refugees have built temporary shelters partly with own material and partly with material provided by national and international organizations. For the use of the land they pay a rent to the respective landowner.

This morning, everything looks dull and still very quiet. It is incomprehensible that, meanwhile, there are one thousand of these settlements in Bekaa valley alone, where people have been looking for shelter of the never-ending war, which has been raging only a few kilometers away for four years already. On the remaining fields we see many people of all ages at their work.

In one of the camps we stop. It is camp number 15, where our team is going to spend its third day in a row. On the first day, they had been obliged to stop their work for safety reasons, as the Lebanese army had been looking for illegal refugees and riots inside the camp had been apprehended.

We park our cars in front of the Shawish’s tent – who is the head of the camp – and who has placed his home at our disposal. He is shaving his beard and asks us for patience. Some minutes later, he clears his tent. Very quickly our two cars are surrounded by children, who enjoy helping us to unload.

A quarter of an hour later, the family accommodation has been modified into two surgeries including a pharmacy. In front of the tent, the first patients have arrived. While Deeb starts registering the patients, the teams prepares for an especially hot day. The staff members are moving daily into other camps and tents and are therefore also exposed to always different climatic and acoustic conditions. And every day, the workplace must be installed and, in the afternoon, removed again.

Together with Fatima, I am conducting the last part of our current patients’ survey today. I am glad about the fact that today, all patients are satisfied with the treatment and the quality of the medicine. Moreover, some of them tell me without being asked that they feel respected and taken serious by our team. Each time I think that it is so important to give those people a bit of dignity in their distress.

A ten-year-old boy tells me that he wants to travel to Germany. He asks if I could help him. He explains to me that he wants to play and go to school there. A legitimate wish, I think. Later, I come to talk to a twelve-year-old, who has come to see our doctors because of a non-treated bronchitis. Since he has come to the camp, he has no possibility of going to school, he says. One of the many problems among the refugee population.

Only yesterday during the monthly meeting of the active organizations here, I learned that the UN is going to cut off drastically the means for the World Food Program. The food costs have already been reduced from 19 dollars per month to 13 dollars. From September on, maximum five persons per household are being provided for. This means a life far below the breadline, not only for the twelve-year-old boy’s family of ten.

At the end of the day, I’ve got some time to play a bit with the children, who had been hanging around my chair during the surveys. On my way back to the car a little girl takes my hand: “Will you come back?”, Dr. Natalie translates her question.

As I’m already sitting in the car the little girl tells me: “It was nice to play with you. There has already been an organization here once and they have played with many of the children.” I am moved to see, how the girls concentrates on gleams of light in her dull everyday life.“

While these weeks school will start again for the children in Germany, millions of Syrian children are eking out an existence on the run without any prospects. Please support our urgently needed help in Lebanon with a donation and help us to continue offering small gleams of light. Thank you very much!

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