While having a snack and enjoying his orange juice, 9 year old Khalid reflected on his experience in the International Medical Corps’ (IMC) Adolescent Friendly Space (AFS) programme. Khalid was attending the AFS in Mafraq on that day and was preoccupied with his drawing and colouring activity.
He started listing absentmindedly: “Accepting my medical status; better self-esteem; growing more; and more friends to play with” are a few of positive aspects Khaled mentioned to his case manager, Younis Al Adem while still focusing intently on his masterpiece. It’s hard to draw with just one eye, and Khalid’s left eye was bandaged due to a recent surgery.
For children experiencing psychological difficulties or cognitive impairments, early detection is the best predictor of a good outcome. The ability to screen for adjustment problems or cognitive deficits during childhood and teenage years means that these psychosocial issues can be addressed before they lead to anger control or behavioural issues. IMC prefers to avoid the use of medication for treating psychosocial issues when at all possible and prefers to try and address these symptoms using a natural family and peer-oriented approach. Through the Adolescent Friendly Spaces (AFS), IMC’s approach is to support children and youth that have psychosocial or psychological problems caused by their experiences.
Kahlid suffers from a congenital heart defect that has left him with a severely weakened heart. He also suffered from a partial glaucoma on his right eye, for which he received treatment in 2012, and a full glaucoma on his left eye.
IMC learned of Khalid in early 2015 when his grandmother, with whom he now lives in Jordan after his parents sent him to live with her in 2012 because of the on-going violence in Syria, sought them out after Khalid’s wheelchair had been stolen. After getting Khalid into a new wheelchair, the team focused on his psychological and medical conditions.
First, Khalid was registered in the AFS programme to give him an opportunity to interact and play with other children who had been briefed about his situation. No one made fun of him or bullied him for being different. In the meantime his case manager learned as much as possible about his situation.
Khalid’s glaucoma could be treated with surgery but because of his weakened hear the procedure was deemed too risky. His glaucoma would have to be managed therapeutically. Time passed without much change in his condition, until one day the pressure in his eye built up to the point that it ruptured. His eye started to bleed and almost immediately IMC was by his side, delivering him to the ER.
An emergency operation was scheduled, for which UNHCR would cover all the expenses. Khalid was admitted to the operating theatre, and everybody waited.
Younis, his case manager, was worried: “I had this intense feeling of being hopeless. All we could do was wait for him to get out of surgery”
His grandmother placed his fate with God: “Khalid is now in God’s hands and that whatever God wants it will happen”.
After an hour, and to everyone’s relief, the doctor informed them that Khalid’s surgery had been successful. Younis and IMC have ensured that all his future medical expenses will be covered, including even his transportation to and from his appointments.
Khalid is now back attending IMC’s AFS twice a week, and is aiming to register in school next year after. He says: “I want to study so I can become a first responder and help people like you helped me. Thank you very much!”
Sector: Social Protection
Project Name: REF 1: Access to territory and international protection is improved and protection space preserved
JRP Specific Objective: REF 1: Access to territory and international protection is improved and protection space preserved
Project Title: Protection, Primary Health and Mental Health Services for Syrian Refugees Residing in Camps and Host Communities
Project budget: USD 306,048
Project duration: 12 months
Financing agency: UNHCR
Implementing partner: IMC