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Jordan/Syria: “Even those who’ve managed to dodge bullets can’t escape fatal diseases.”

30 Dec 2016

The Médecins Sans Frontières project in northern Jordan treats people suffering from non-communicable diseases is seeing high numbers of patients for the second year running. Muwaffaq Mreish, 51 years old is from Damascus, Syria and shares his story.

“I was living in Damascus when my house was bombed. We lost our property along with all of our furniture. My mother’s and my siblings’ houses were destroyed too. I needed to leave Syria to protect my sons – our lives would have been at risk if we’d stayed. So I left for Jordan, taking my mother with me. She is elderly and immobile, so needs extra care. At first we stayed with my sister, who was already living in Jordan. That was the start of a very difficult time. I bore all the responsibility for my family’s wellbeing. I was new to the country, and although I was well-received by the Jordanian people, it was still tough. 

"Eighteen months ago, my body could no longer bear the weight of the world, and I suffered a heart attack"

We had financial problems, and my mother had health issues. I had had to sell my car and other possessions to come to Jordan. After less than a year, all my life savings were gone. I couldn’t stop thinking about the past: of what I had and what I had lost. It’s like having a friend who you’ve seen every day for the past 25 years, and then suddenly you are separated. I’m in Jordan, my cousin’s in Egypt, another relative’s in Lebanon – everyone is living in different places. This is what saddens me. In the past we were united, constantly meeting and gathering, going out together on trips.

The Syrian people have become sad, ill and psychologically exhausted. Even those who’ve managed to dodge bullets can’t escape fatal diseases. Eighteen months ago, my body could no longer bear the weight of the world, and I suffered a heart attack. I arrived at the hospital a lifeless body – the hospital's report said ‘presumed dead’. My heart had stopped completely; it was defibrillated five times and I was given an injection to jump-start it. I was unconscious for three days in intensive care. Soon I started having problems getting hold of the medicines I needed, as well as my mother’s medication. Some were very expensive and my financial situation was bad. I kept on searching for a solution. Then I found Médecins Sans Frontières who really helped me. I registered my mother as a patient at Médecins Sans Frontières’ clinic in Irbid. They pay her home visits each month for a medical check-up as she’s physically unable to get to the clinic. 

A doctor at Médecins Sans Frontières’ clinic told me about a new psychosocial support programme they were running, so I joined up. I would really encourage others to join these sessions. They make me feel happy and take the weight off my mind. The Médecins Sans Frontières team sends me regular text messages telling me when to come to the clinic. They follow up on my health condition and are committed to their patients. With all the chaos the world is in right now, we really enjoy this sense of discipline. There is mutual cooperation between staff and patients, which is why the relationship is 100 percent successful. Médecins Sans Frontières has proved that there is still humanity left in this world.”