Migration Health

Healthy Migrants in Healthy Communities

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Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Date Published: 
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ayham, 25 years old, from Al Ghoutah Al Sharkiya was forced to abandon his country of origin, Syria, after being arrested because of his political beliefs. He said about the journey, “It wasn't easy for me and my wife to leave everything behind. While crossing checkpoints, I was afraid of being arrested again. Fortunately, that did not happen.”

Two years ago, he settled with his wife in an informal settlement in Faour, a village in the Beqaa valley. Soon after, his parents and siblings joined them. Their only daughter, Taj (7 months) was born in Lebanon.

Currently, he is sharing the same tent with nine relatives.

As is the same with many other refugees not benefiting from any aid, Ayham works in multiple industries, like construction and agriculture, to ensure a decent life for his family.

“As a migrant, I don’t have many options, and finding a sustainable job is difficult. I might work one day and become jobless the other day,” Ayham says. However, he is not considering the possibility of going back to his homeland any time soon. He feels more secure here.

A few months ago, Ayham was diagnosed with pulmonary smear positive TB. He caught the infection from his brother’s wife who lives with them in the same tent. The wife returned to Syria to receive treatment. She was in an advanced stage, with a severe cough and hemoptysis. He began having symptoms as well, including fatigue.

He first became suspicious when he couldn’t complete any tasks that required effort. From there, his health deteriorated rapidly. He did not have enough money, so he borrowed some from a friend to do a CT scan. Then he was advised to go to the nearest National TB Programme center. The routine screening of relatives revealed that his little daughter had been infected as well.

Ayham and his daughter Taj were admitted at Azounieh Sanatorium for treatment, and then soon discharged. The cost of their hospitalization services was covered by IOM under the Global Fund grant for Lebanon.  Now, he continues taking his medications and feels much better. He is still unemployed and counts on his brother’s job for a living.

“I thank God for everything. I am grateful for being diagnosed at the right moment and treated, especially because we saved my little daughter’s life”.