Khawla* is a 24-year-old survivor of the earthquakes that severely damaged great parts of the city of Aleppo last February. She and her husband were expecting to be blessed with a new baby, when the catastrophic event destroyed not only their home, but also their family and hope.
Khawla’s husband lost his life and, with nothing left, she decided to flee Aleppo with her two other children, siblings and some neighbours to seek refuge on the outskirts of Damascus. They only managed to find a place shared with other four families in very precarious living conditions and without any privacy.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) outreach team soon visited her in the small room they had rented. One of the volunteers, who noticed that Khawla was showing clear signs of malnutrition during the last stage of her pregnancy, also observed that there was no food in the house. JRS provided Khawla with a food basket and supported her to access medical care. The doctors decided to hospitalise her immediately and, just three days later, the miracle happened: Ziad* finally came to life. His weight was barely over one kg, but he is a resilient child. JRS continued supporting Khawla and Ziad to cover the costs of the health care needed for the baby to gain strength and be able to come back to their temporary home.
Four months since the devastating disaster, Ziad growing up healthy like any other child, as a result of continuous medical follow-up. In addition, the entire family, including his mother, siblings and uncles, managed to rent a small flat with the support of JRS, which represented a breakthrough in the family’s physical and psychological wellbeing.
They also received a second food basket since this new house doesn’t have a kitchen and the only source of income for the family is the little money that Ziad’s older siblings, both under 15 years old, are able to earn from selling biscuits on the street. JRS decided to refer them to another organization that distributes clothes as well and facilitated the process for them to receive this needed support.
“Everything has changed for us during these few months. My baby is alive and healthy, and I feel relieved to live in an independent house. We have our own privacy now, so my children can grow in a better environment, and I feel strong and motivated to take proper care of them, she explains.
Despite all the difficulties that the family is still experiencing, Khawla stays positive and feels extremely grateful.
*name has been changed to protect identity.