Monday, 21 March 2016

"We lost the baby."

I knew it was likely to happen but I still sat there eyes closed, fists and jaw clenched muttering, "No! It's not fair."
I try not to "mind" too much or I couldn't go on doing what I do but sometimes it just gets to you. I don't even know the woman I wrote this for. I have never met her but I wish I could have been there for her, holding her hand. She's lost everything. Her husband was killed months ago. She was trying to nurse her two children, seriously injured in the same strike that killed him. They died slowly and painfully due to the lack of medical facilities. 
She was pregnant and, somehow, she remained that way. She had high hopes of a child - not perhaps as a replacement for all she had lost because nothing can do that but because it would be a new beginning which would link to the past. 
After the other two children were gone she started to walk from her home in Syria and was eventually picked up and taken to a camp by someone who realised she was in need of even more help than most of the refugees. 
It was one of the MSF doctors who sent me the message. He is someone I have worked with before. He had asked for help. "We need a communication board for someone who probably can't read. She is profoundly deaf and very disturbed. She is also pregnant. Nobody understands her signs."
So, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. What was she likely to want to communicate? How could we portray that? I put something together. They gave it to her. She apparently spent a long time looking at it. Someone showed her how to point to what was on it in order to communicate and, once she understood, she held it tight.
I can't even begin to imagine how terrified she must have felt, must still feel. She would have lived in a world of limited communication even before the war that is tearing her country apart. It is likely that she never received an education at all. I know almost nothing about her. I have never seen a photograph of her and never will. She will disappear into the seething mass of people who make up one of the toughest refugee camps in the world. She may or may not survive. 
All I could give her were a few "words" with which to try and tell her story. They are there on a laminated A4 sheet. 
She has nothing else and it isn't enough.

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