Here in Za’atri Camp lives Amal; a woman in her forties and a mother of 4 children, the youngest of which is 5 year-old Omar. The ongoing conflict in Syria forced her to leave her hometown of Der’aa and seek refuge in Za’atri Camp with her four children while her husband remained in Syria. Despite that, Amal keeps hope alive in her children that they will be reunited with their father soon.
Amal is going through a difficult life in the camp because of harsh living conditions and no income; she struggles to provide some basics for her children. On top of that, Omar has a fiber tumor on his face that prevents him from eating and drinking easily as well as difficulty getting around. Omar’s health was beginning to deteriorate day after day, the tumor kept growing and he became his mother’s only focus. Amal remained patient despite these conditions and kept telling herself that she is doing better than many others in the camp. She began going to hospitals and clinics that are open in the camp, trying to find a solution for her son’s problem, or at least a way to reduce his pain.
Amal takes a deep breath, carrying within it great pain yet accompanied by threads of hope. She describes to me her daily journey that starts at sunrise as she carries Omar, covering his face with a light cloth to protect him from the scorching sun. Amal doesn’t have enough money to take any transportation from one place to another or a wheelchair that can ease her back pain, so she has no choice by to walk.
Amal couldn’t hide her shame during our conversation, for even when going to the pediatrician she was cautious to cover her son’s face to avoid any questions that people may pose in the waiting room. The women there with their children have curious eyes that were trying to find out what she was hiding, this made her feel nervous and weary. Moreover, she knows that her journey doesn’t end after the doctor’s visit, but that she might have to come for another appointment or be transferred somewhere else so Omar can get the tests that he needs, all of this opens another door of suffering. How much longer does Amal have to endure? And will she finally find a solution after all of this? These questions and more kept going through her head at every doctor’s appointment, in addition to Omar’s eyes that carry with them great pain reflected upon Amal on this long journey.
I found in Amal a patient, sensitive, and great person all at once; for how can she juggle raising her children, catering to their needs, and Omar that takes up most of her time? I found myself unconsciously patting her shoulder; she smiled at me and said that after several doctor visits and tests, Omar was transferred to a hospital for an operation to take out the tumor. Perhaps this will reduce his pain and help him eat and drink more easily.
Amal is now preparing her son for this operation; she is full of hope that this will ease her son’s suffering. At the same time, she is tirelessly looking for anything simple to do in the camp so she can generate some income for her family, hoping that God will bless him with health and a quick recovery.