Arrived at the new Amman airport – huge and a lot better and more efficient than the last trip when they were first opening.
Got a porter and picked up the luggage – I had two other doctors with me on this flight. As I was going through customs the agents wanted to open one of the bags and this is when things started to go awry. I showed them letters that I had for the medications and why we were all coming to Jordan, they said that this will not work and we needed a letter from the Ministry of Health. The person in Jordan that was supposed to have had all this done seems that they did not. After talking and talking to them it was to no avail and they took all the luggage we had – 9 bags full of medical supplies and medications. We left for the hotel with receipts and instructions that we would come back the next day and get them cleared.
It seems that after that every doctor that we had arriving had their bags were confiscated. Dr Humam, the medical leader on this mission, had set up meetings at the different hospitals and camps in Jordan and we were all going in with the medications to hand out. We dealt with it the only way we could and that was buying more medications locally as we needed them.
The next morning we had the driver go to the airport with more paperwork and see if he could get the bags cleared. While this was being done everyone was being sent to different clinics. Some went to Zaatari, but a new law now allows only 4 physicians to go in at one time. With a group as big as this one -34 people – we split up. Others went to two clinics in Irbid, two hospitals in Amman that would take Syrian patients, the women’s union in Amman and one in Madaba.
We had a couple of doctors that were american and spoke no Arabic so we needed to make sure that they had a translator with them during the sessions with the patients.
These doctors had been on other kinds of missions in South America etc. The Syrian America doctors would get very emotional that these doctors who had no ties to this part of the world would give their time to come for 10 days and help. They would talk about this
and tell the doctors that it embarrassed them that we did not have more Syrian or Arab doctors on board.
Each one of the doctors with us had a specialty and Dr Human would try and place them where they were most needed.
Every morning the group would be given the place that they were going and they would get into the vans and set out at 8am for their designated duty stations.
Today I was at the Spinal Cord clinic for men- they had 30 patients and this is a place that I had visited before. The place now, because of generous donations had some rehab equipment and hospital beds and a full staff. Most of these patients are all young men in their early 20’s. except for one young boy who was 16 years of age.
I asked him questions about how he got there – he arrived 2 months ago. He is from Deraa, and his uncle had a food stand there. One day it was shot at and hit. His uncle died. The young boy went to the shop to collect some things and the snipers saw him and shot him. He was shot in the shoulder and then the bullet went into his chest and burst. He is paralyzed from the waist down. Very cute, young and so sweet. He said he liked mathematics, speaking English, and playing soccer. The thing that he misses is school – he has not gone in two years and doesn’t want to forget what he had learned. Someone had donated an iPad for him and he showed that to me and showed me what he was doing. I talked to the Doctor and other members of the group that were specialized in Spinal injuries and they checked him out and decided that he needed to be moved in with young people his age and not be with the older men. The 20 or so patients would stay in bed most of the time and do some physical therapy and watch tv – showing the war in Syria.
We want to get them a therapist to start them on different treatments – they need mental health, body and soul treatment besides just the medical treatments. The incidents of depression is very high. They ask questions – will I walk, play soccer, work, get married have children, have sex, etc. With these kinds of injuries it can be hard to give them a definite answer to these questions. Much of their recovery depends on the rehabilitation and how they heal.
We had a meeting with the staff at the clinic and the other doctors to see what kind of program could be set up for these guys, and also how to get a social worker or physiologist to come in and do some group and individual therapy on a weekly basis. They need so much help.
After this the group went to the spinal clinic for children. This was so heart breaking.
It really doesn’t matter how many stories that you hear and how many injured that you see, it hits hard and to feel the suffering of these people, knowing that they did not do anything – they are just children!
Children that will be paralyzed for life. Children that will have PTSD, depending on society, that might never have their own children or that will hate and not be able to deal with society and wonder why this has happened to them.
One of the first patients that we saw a young 13 year old girl that had lost her leg- she had been outside and the snipers got her. It took her family days to get out of Homs, where she is from and make it to Amman to get treatment. She is bright and wants to learn English and go into medicine and wants to help others- she is so grown for her age. She has a sister that was not injured but is there with her. The doctors wanted to see the young sister and they would ask her why she was going around barefooted and she said ‘when my sister wears shoes, I will also.’ The little 6 year old has a hard time accepting that her sister doesn’t have legs so she can’t wear shoes.