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A dream deferred, not forgotten, for Syrian refugee Mariam

by Tyler Graf | Dec 21, 2016


Lebanon,  Mariam, Dec. 2016 (6)
In Syria, Mariam dreamed of becoming a nurse. Now in Lebanon as a refugee, she continues to care for people in her community while longing to return home.

One thing is keeping Mariam going amid the hardships of life as a Syrian refugee — the thought of home.

But for Mariam there is no home. Not like before. When ISIS invaded her town of Deir ez-Zor, they destroyed everything. While they killed hundreds, they kidnapped and injured hundreds more. The city became a battlefield in the Syrian civil war, upended by rancor and continuous fighting.

Mariam, 29, was lucky to escape with her parents and two sisters.

She left everything behind, including her schooling, which she couldn’t continue because of the war. In Syria, she had dreams for the future, of possibly entering the healthcare field. But when the bombs began dropping, those dreams faded.

Life in Lebanon is relatively safe, but it comes with its own set of challenges. It’s expensive and difficult for Mariam to make a living. Mariam receives food from the World Food Program and works the field, but she holds out hope of returning to school and receiving her nursing degree.

Having witnessed unspeakable trauma, Mariam wants to help others. At the settlement, she has received the training and support necessary to do this.

Mariam is one of 500 Refugee Outreach Volunteers trained by Medical Teams International to help sick and vulnerable refugees connect with primary health care clinics. She is helping to save and improve lives by preventing strokes, heart attacks and diabetes-related complications. Medical Teams International subsidizes the care the refugees receive and provides further health support and education to ensure this care continues.

In Lebanon, home to an estimated 1.2 million refugees, the needs are urgent. The influx of refugees has strained the country's fragile health system. By addressing preventative and ongoing care using outreach volunteers like Mariam, Medical Teams International plans to bolster the system.

Although the future is uncertain, Mariam feels proud that she is helping others. Out of the rubble of war, she is working to rebuild lives … including her own.