Seven years of conflict: A midwife’s day in Syria
World Humanitarian Day 2017: Saving lives in Syria
Khawla is a midwife working for a health centre in Aleppo – one of 10 primary healthcare centres and 10 mobile clinics supported by CARE in northern Syria.
I wake up, wash my face, brush my teeth and get ready. I do some housework depending on if there is electricity or not. Before I leave, I also prepare breakfast for my husband and children. This is my typical morning.
I dress and get a ride from my village to the centre where I work. The distance is between 15-20 km and it takes around 15 minutes to get there.
My work starts at eight. Usually, the centre is crowded with local women and women displaced by the conflict. I wear my coat and sit in my room and start receiving cases.
Our team consists of an internal doctor, a paediatrician, two midwives and nurses. When a woman comes to the centre, she registers herself at the reception then I receive her to speak and understand the problems she has and how my intervention will be.
My main intervention is to insert intra-uterine devices or distribute oral contraceptives.
Sometimes we refer the complicated cases to a specialised hospital, which is 15 km away from the centre.
Today, I examine a woman in a serious condition. I feel sorry for her. She is bleeding due to surgery complications. I empty her uterus and give her needed medicine.
I can almost say I saved her life, as she lost huge amounts of blood and there is no nearby hospital. Otherwise her condition would be much worse.
I took her phone number to ask about her condition later.
It’s almost one o’clock and the cases gradually decrease at this time. Normally, our working day finishes at two o’clock.
I examine 20 cases a day on average without taking a break, we don’t want the women to wait long.
Some days we even work after two o’clock to make sure no one leaves without being seen.
When I have some free time before returning home, I prepare the examination room for the next day.
The car is about to come to take me back home. It was a busy day, like every day.
I spend the few hours after work in preparing the family lunch and on housework. My children sometimes help me if they can. Today I’m cooking spiced eggplant with salad.
Since we don’t have regular electricity, I cook just enough food for today, as we can’t store it in the fridge for tomorrow.
The time has come to socialise or rest. I would go normally go visit a relative or take tea with neighbours, but I feel a bit tired today to go outside. Perhaps my sister-in-law will stop by later today. On days when my children go to school, I check on their homework and follow up on their study.
Sometimes after work I get an emergency call from women in the village to advise them, for examination or to help them to give birth. This can also happen in late hours.
This is what scares me: having to go out during evening or night hours due to the security and conflict conditions in Syria.
I’m currently getting trained on psychological first aid basics, I’m happy to enrich my knowledge and develop myself. I read some study materials, do my homework then send the answers to our advisor on Whatsapp. I have to connect to the internet of our neighbour since there are no other communication means available. The signal is weak though.
It’s dark outside and the village becomes very quiet. I tend to sleep around 10 o’clock every night to be able to wake up early.
We struggle to sleep comfortably in this hot weather without electricity. We share a generator with neighbours, but it provides electricity just six to seven hours a day. If we had electricity now I would turn on the fan.
How CARE is helping people in northern Syria
As the Syria crisis enters its seventh year, civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life. An estimated 13.5 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 4.9 million people in need who are trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, where they are exposed to grave protection threats.
CARE supports 10 primary healthcare centres and 10 mobile clinics in northern Syria to provide vulnerable Syrian households with access to sexual and reproductive health, and primary healthcare services, in Idleb and Aleppo governorates.
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