On a sunny, crisp winter day in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, Syrian refugee Hind tells the story of her last four years. Upon hearing it, it would be understandable if the sum of her experiences had toppled her. On the contrary - Hind has not only survived, but is standing tall to care for her new community.
Four years ago, Hind knew they had to leave. She was afraid for her sons’ lives- her two young sons looked older than they were and she feared they would be forced to join the army. With no alternative, they walked to the Lebanese border. The journey was horrific - she and her sons dodged bombs as they fled.
“I feared for my life. It was the worst two hours of my life.”
To flee, they had to make a difficult decision - leave her husband behind. He couldn’t enter Lebanon because he would be stopped at the checkpoint and drafted into the army. Trapped in the violence in Syria, he’s sustained injuries to his head, leg and skull.
In Lebanon, Hind and her sons lived in an informal refugee settlement near the border with Syria. They lived there for two years, until the Syrian army began bombing their settlement directly, believing some ISIS family members to be living there. Hind recalls, “If you looked at the night sky, you could see the rockets hitting each other.”
Again, Hind and her sons had to flee for their lives.
“I didn’t like the war in Syria. But I actually lived the war in Lebanon.”
After two days of fighting, the Lebanese army opened the roads to civilians and Hind took the opportunity to flee Arsal. While escaping in a taxi, her sons hid under their few belongings so they wouldn’t be found and arrested at the army checkpoint.
Now their home is again an informal refugee resettlement, this time in the Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Hind continues to care for her sons, now 14 and 18.
The challenges for the boys are great. Neither of them attends school. Her eldest son, Haroun, managed to continue school until 9th grade. Abdrauif, her youngest son, was a very tall 5th grader when he was placed into a 2nd grade class. He eventually became so embarrassed and depressed that he left school.
Despite incredible struggles, Hind is giving back and serving others in the refugee settlement.
Hind wishes her youngest son could have continued until the 9th grade like his brother. But, on top of this, he is dealing with serious health issues. Partially paralyzed from kidney problems he developed before he was 2 years old, Abdrauif needs a kidney transplant and needs frequent health monitoring - but the transplant is too expensive.
The last four years have been full of struggles for Hind - but she has not given up. Thanks to your support, she’s received training to become a Refugee Outreach Volunteer. She now helps to monitor the health of the community members in her settlement and refer them to the Primary Health Care Clinics for treatment.
Hind likes helping patients with home visits so they don’t have to leave their settlement for monitoring and treatment of non-contagious illnesses. And, as part of her role as a Refugee Outreach Volunteer, Hind is able to monitor her own son’s blood sugar level with equipment provided by Medical Teams International.
Hind and her sons are among thousands of Syrian refugees seeking safety in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Thanks to your support, Medical Teams International is there and has built a network to address the critical health needs of the refugees. 500 Refugee Outreach Volunteers have been trained in 100 informal settlements. Volunteers refer community members to Primary Health Care clinics run by the Ministry of Public Health. There, the refugees receive treatment and follow-up.
With one son now working in the fields nearby, and the other in need of a new kidney, Hind continues to care for her family. Her situation and experiences may seem too much for an ordinary person to handle, but her resilience is extraordinary. Luckily for her community, somehow, Hind has something left to give.