Mother & Child Hospital, Irbid : Interview with Syrian father Mahmoud Hammad
November 20, 2013
“My name is Mahmoud Hammad. I am 30 years old, from Baba Amro area in Homs, Syria. I am a father of two children, one is 5 years-old and the other one is 3-hours old, who has just seen the light at the MSF hospital here in Irbid.
I arrived to Jordan with my family in May 2012, and just like the majority of Syrian refugees in the country we crossed the border illegally. Looking to the deteriorating security situation inside Syria, and as a father, you don’t have many options when it comes to leaving or staying in Syria. The safety and wellbeing of my family pushed us to leave Homs and then Syria without any hesitation. Living in Homs is like attempting suicide! The continuous fighting made no distinction between civilians and fighters, children and adults. Any moving or even still object has been a target!
It took me two weeks to get to the Syrian-Jordanian border. We kept moving from one area to another, day and night. It has been very exhausting and risky especially that we moved without any ID – all we managed to take before leaving home were ourselves and the clothes we had on! My daughter was 4 years-old and I can still remember the fear and panic on her face when she heard the sounds of shootings and airstrikes. She is still having nightmares and wakes up in the middle of the night crying. Whenever this happens, I realize that I made the right decision to leave Syria.
We first arrived at a refugee Camp in Ramtha known as ‘Al-Bashabshe Camp’ where we stayed for a couple of months. Then we had to leave the camp due to the difficult living conditions, compared to the living standards we used to have back home. The kind of life I was looking for outside the camps is a normal life where you can make choices. We found a way to leave the camp and moved to the town of Mafraq where the difficulties we faced continued but in other ways. It was not easy to settle in Mafraq and try to integrate into the society.
Rent prices in Mafraq are expensive; for example I pay JD160 (160 euro) for a studio apartment and I work all month as a blacksmith to collect this amount of money. One day I would find a workshop to work in, but finding work the next day is not guaranteed. I was lucky enough that a generous Jordanian sponsored the education of my 5 year-old daughter, covering the tuition fees of her education in a private kindergarten. Otherwise, she would have stayed home without any education. When my wife was pregnant we couldn’t visit a doctor as we had no money to pay for a private consultation. For us, securing money to buy bread was more important than paying for a medical consultation! As a refugee you have to rearrange your living priorities.
My cousin lives here in Irbid and through him we knew about this facility and that MSF offers mother and child care for free. At the beginning, I didn’t believe that it was for free, or that the level of care would be good. But when I came here for the first consultation with my wife it was obvious that the level of care is very good and the staff are so kind. That’s why we decided to come back here. We came all the way from Mafraq [60km away] to get this care.
I am so happy that we found this hospital and that my wife delivered our baby safely. My son is very cute and I gave him the name of Zain Al-Abideen. He is now in the neonatal care unit and MSF nurses are looking after him. He’s healthy and will join his mom in her room in a couple of hours.”