Hasna, 34, gave birth to her fifth daughter in Jordan. They named her Jawaher, meaning “diamonds”. Strong. Rare. Precious.
Originally from Al-Ghouta, Syria, she and her husband fled in 2013, along with their five children, after the house they were staying in was hit by a bomb. For nearly a year they had moved from one village to another in an increasingly desperate search for safety.
“We left the houses with only the clothes we had on. We were exhausted, tired, and scared” she explained. “Many of our family members were killed. We had to flee to Jordan to escape the fighting.”
They found refuge in Jordan, but after two months of living in Za’atari chose to leave the camp and move to Mafraq. But life as an urban refugee presented its own set of challenges.
The family had little savings, making it hard to secure nutritious food on a regular basis, and the previous 18 months had taken their toll on Hasna’s health. It is around this time that she became pregnant with Jawaher.
The hardship only seemed to increase after Jawaher was born.
“I was really tired. It is so hard to see my children hungry, not going to school, and without clothes to be warm,” recalled Hasna’s husband, his eyes full of tears.
One day, when she was 8 months old, Jawaher stopped eating. No matter what her mother tried, she could not get her to breastfeed. Fearing for their daughter’s life, the family took little Jawaher to the hospital.
It was there that Elsa, Health and Nutrition Project Manager with Medair, first met baby Jawaher.
A mid-upper arm circumference test – used to assess nutritional status - revealed that she was suffering from acute malnutrition. Precious Jawaher “was starving and in need of food” recalled Elsa.
The average weight of an eight month old infant is between 8 to 10 kilos; Jawaher weighed 4.6 kilos.
The Medair Health Team provided immediate support. At the hospital, they administered Plumby’Nut, a peanut-based therapeutic food used to treat acute malnutrition in children.
“It was amazing. After 30 minutes she started to get her energy back. An eight-month-old baby should be making noises and interacting with people, and after 90 minutes she was doing just that” explained Elsa.
Once Jawaher was released from the hospital, Elsa and Medair continued to support Hasna through her daughter’s rehabilitation. When snow storm Huda threatened to put Jordan into a deep freeze, Elsa negotiated with the local hospital to admit Hasna and Jawaher; it was unlikely that Jawaher could have survived the storm in the family’s tent. Every day, Medair staff visited Hasna to assist with feeding Jawaher.
Three weeks later, when the snow melted, mother and daughter were able to return home. Jawaher was stronger, though Medair would make regular visits to the family’s home to monitor her progress. Elsa also taught Hasna about nutrition, feeding, and how to make sure her children were getting what they needed to stay healthy and strong.
Hasna is happy to be back at home with all of her children and to see Jawaher’s health getting better: “Thank you, Medair, for helping us. You brought my child back to life.”
Project name: Assistance to vulnerable families affected by the Syrian crisis/Health
JRP Specific Objective: REF3: Comprehensive healthcare for Syrian WGBM and Jordanian populations in highly impacted areas.
Project description: Medair facilitates a malnutrition screening, education, and treatment programme in coordination with the Jordan Health Aid Society. The project provides education on best practice for infant and child feeding, and the provision of therapeutic food for any with confirmed malnutrition, targeting pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under five. Medair also has a network of trained Community Health volunteers that do house to house visits, facilitate mothers support groups and help promote good health practices in their communities.
Total Financing: USD 385,476
Financing Agency: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and Swiss Solidarity (CDB)
Implementing Partner: Medair
Local Partner: Jordan Health Aid Society