| Aug 24, 2016
There are thousands of refugees in Greece in need of help, of hope, and someone to care for them. One of many urgent needs is the lack of health care. And this need only increases as more refugees join the thousands in Greece unable to continue their journeys as the European borders have closed.
Last week, Sharon Tissell, a Medical Teams International RN volunteer, shared stories with us from her first day at the Diavata refugee camp where 1,200 refugees live. Now in the last days of her trip, Sharon has a heartbreaking but important new perspective on life in the camp for these refugees.
By Sharon Tissell, RN
It is sad but sadly not surprising that there is a crisis of mental health among the Syrian refugees we are helping in the camps. Between the harrowing escape from their homes and the devastating loss of hope as they languish in refugee camps, it is often too much to bear.
Just today, a young mother was urgently transported from our clinic to the hospital after drinking bleach in an attempt to finally ease her suffering.
In the afternoon, I met Samira, a 44 year-old woman, who, with her six children, was urged by her husband to flee the conflict in Syria. Samira's husband is now disabled from a stroke and was unable to make the arduous journey. For the sake of her children, she was forced to leave him behind and now languishes in this camp. Samira came to see us for treatment of her anemia and high blood pressure but what was most evident was her depression and discouragement because of her situation.
This discouragement and depression affects all ages.
Later, Hassan, a beautiful three year old boy, was brought into the clinic by his mother who was concerned that he was not eating. Hassan had lost seven pounds in the last two weeks and refused to eat most of the time. The times he would eat were the few times his mother could afford to buy food to cook the usual meal she used to serve her family in Syria. When a full examination showed no illness, we suspected the stress of their desperate circumstances was affecting even this precious 3-year-old.
Hassan never smiled and clung to his mother.
The suffering is palpable in every refugee we see though some are holding on to hope that there is still a future for them…