19-year-old Leen*, a young Syrian mother whose baby suffered serious health complications right after being born, has finally been able to head back home together with her child after receiving assistance and medical care through the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).
Leen, who is originally from the city of Alhajar Alaswad in southern Syria but has long been displaced in Damascus due to the ongoing conflict, approached ICMC’s local health workers the month before her delivery, being very anxious for her baby’s health. “I was 8 months pregnant when I came to the center”, explains Leen. “I almost hadn’t received any support during my pregnancy and I was very stressed about the possibility of giving birth alone at home. I went to ICMC and asked the staff to help with medical assistance for the delivery of my child and for care after the child’s birth”.
After the delivery, Leen discovered that her baby was not breathing right: he needed immediate care, remaining in an incubator for ten days. Those days were extremely difficult for the new mother, who was not only concerned with the baby’s health, but also about the financial means needed for his medical treatments. Having been displaced in Damascus for four years, Leen’s family of eleven could not really count on a stable income and largely relied on humanitarian assistance to pay for everyday needs.
Fortunately, Leen could benefit from financial support from ICMC, which covered the medical expenses entirely. “We are very grateful to the midwives and health workers for their support”, Leen told the ICMC staff before heading home with her child. “We were so worried about finding a way to cover the costs ourselves! This is our firstborn and it was a relief to be in good hands.” She also believes the assistance from the staff in relieving her psychological stress greatly contributed to her safe delivery. Due to financial constraints, many pregnant women are not getting the necessary check-ups, while others have infections that are left untreated.
In order to help displaced pregnant women in the Greater Damascus area get better access to medical care, ICMC offers them comprehensive checkups both before and after delivery – including medical support for newborns who need additional and specific treatment.
Despite complications, mother and baby are both doing well. Regardless of ongoing hardships, Leen shows strength of character and expresses hope for the future, both for herself and her newborn. “Our lives are hard now, but there is no life better than life at home. When the war is over we will return to our home and rebuild our community for our newborn baby. We want that for him”.
* The name has been changed to protect the privacy of the person.