Stories from Jordan
Jordan: “Please Don’t Forget Us”
Thuraya is a 20-year-old woman from Hama, Syria. She is one of thousands of people affected by the ongoing Syria Crisis. In 2014, she had to leave her hometown and flee to Jordan with her mother and sister.
Thuraya and her family struggled to reach the Jordanian border. The family took four or five trucks, switching at every checkpoint before reaching the Jordanian border. They travelled with more than 45 families in the same truck. It took them 10 days to reach the border whereas it would usually take a few hours for the same distance. “We were scared of getting caught along the journey, but we were even more scared of staying in Syria,” says Thuaraya.
When they finally crossed into Jordan, they were sent to Azraq camp in the north of the country. Living in the camp was very difficult for Thuraya and her mother. “The conditions were so hard,” remembers Thuraya. “My sister, 35, has some mental issues. She used to hit children and scream all the time. And if she left the caravan, she would get lost. So we had to lock her up inside the caravan most of the time.”
Her sister proved to be the main reason the family decided to move outside of Azraq. Four months later, they managed to leave the camp.
In 2015, Thuraya met Mohammad, 26. She married him, and together they have a beautiful two-year-old daughter named Bushra.
Not long after their marriage, Thuraya and Mohammad moved into a tent, the only accommodation they could afford. The tent was empty and worn. Without insulation, it was hard to keep warm in winter.
When Thuraya got pregnant with their second child, she fell ill with a severe cough that caused her a lot of pain, especially when she tried to sleep at night. The doctor told her it was because of the weather and the tent they lived in.
As her pregnancy progressed, Thuraya’s health deteriorated. One day in October 2017, when she was seven months pregnant, she was in a lot of pain and she went to see the doctor. The doctor did not do anything and told her that she was fine, saying she only needed to get some rest.
Thuraya returned home, but she had the worst day of her life: “When I arrived home, I gave birth inside the tent, on the same day the doctor told me there is nothing wrong with me. Only my mother was there. She called my husband to get the ambulance, but everything was done before they even arrived,” she says.
Thuraya had a preterm birth (fewer than 37 weeks of age), and her baby, a little boy, needed urgent medical care. The paramedics took Thuraya and her baby to the hospital. Though she only stayed for one day, the hospital asked the family to pay 120 JOD (USD 169), even though that she hadn’t delivered the baby at the hospital. Her baby, their beautiful son, had to stay in the hospital for two weeks for special care but, tragically, he passed away.
Because of several document issues, Thuraya is considered a foreigner in Jordan (not an uncommon case for Syrian refugees). The hospital charged her and Mohammed 620 JOD (USD 874) for their premature baby’s health care.
Khaled, one of Medair’s health officers, visited Thuraya and Mohammed and witnessed their case. Based on their scale of need, Thuraya was successfully enrolled in Medair’s cash-for-health programme, which provides financial support to Syrian refugees who are in need of medical attention, but who cannot afford it. Under the cash-for-help programme, their baby’s hospital bill was paid for by Medair.
“I don’t know what I would have done if Medair hadn’t helped us,” says Mohammad. “No one has helped us before. I thought no one would, but Medair did, and we’re so thankful.”
When Khaled visited Thuraya and Mohammed again, they were living in a different tent. They had to sell their previous tent so that they could continue eating for another week. The tent they live in now is owned by their relatives.
"No one has helped us before. I thought no one would, but Medair did, and we’re so thankful."
Mohammad doesn’t have a work permit, but he has to work sometimes so that he can meet some of his family’s basic needs. “Every time I go to look for some work, I feel scared that the police might catch me and send me to the camp, and I would never get back here,” says Mohammad.
Mohammad and Thuraya wish the crisis would end so they could return home, but they are not thinking about leaving Jordan. “We prefer to stay here. Jordan is an Arab country, and it’s so close to Syria that we feel like we are in our hometown,” says Mohammad. “Even though life in Jordan is hard with the high expenses, we would rather live this hard life than go somewhere else.”
All Mohammad wants is to live a simple life with his wife and daughter without asking people for money or help. All Thuraya wants is to get well because she still has the cough and the pain she had when she was pregnant.
“I don’t think about the future. I live life day by day,” says Mohammad. “My wish is to not be in need. All I want is to have our simplest rights as humans. Keep helping us, and please don’t forget us.”