A week after our “informing” the Regional Health Department of a seriously ill Syrian refugee child, we arrived at his encampment to do our monthly aid distribution.
This is the child detailed in an earlier blog who is suffering from a serious, debilitating and destructive skin disease and who is living in a make-shift shelter, in a rough and ready encampment, situated in a bald, barren field, two hours up the valley from Antakya.As we normally do, we set up on the edge of the encampment and began the distribution.
Of course, it was also our intention to revisit the ill child – to see how he is doing and how his treatment is progressing.
Elmas went over to his shelter to find him looking much better. He seemed happy to see her and made signs with the stumps of his hands, indicating the spreading of ointment and medicine on his arms. He was now clothed in a long-sleeved shirt and long trousers, so those sores were no longer visible. I suppose dressed thusly, it will protect the sores from the dirt and muck of the encampment. I can not speak to the state of the sores on his arms and legs, but the masses of sores on his head are no longer weeping, appearing to be scabbed over.
On this visit we learned several things: the doctors are coming out regularly to see and treat the child and ‘the child’ is actually 15 years of age – we would have guessed him to be half that age. We were also very relieved to see that he is no longer bound.
When we first came he was bound, whether to prevent him from causing harm to himself because of the pain and discomfort of the ravaging disease or whether to keep him from others in the encampment who might, naturally, fear being in contact with him, we do not know.
But, we do know that on this visit, he was not bound.
No doubt the regular visits of the doctor contributes to this as this would be totally unacceptable to a medical professional.
We also learned that his parents are Syrian refugee field ‘workers’ and not merely field ‘dwellers’. The ill, disabled child, is by himself from when his parents depart, early in the morning, to the fields, until dusk when they return. Without fingers and toes, the range of things he can not do for himself, especially living in the primitive circumstance of field dwelling is legion – he can not cook, drink, go to the loo on his own…. His uncle was in the encampment to keep an eye on him – but that was all. His parents, the ones who are best placed to understand and care for him were, by necessity, off, labouring in the fields.
Rejoice with us that the Regional Health Department are true to their word, regularly visiting and treating this child. Rejoice with us that the child has responded well to the treatment – his fingers and toes can not come back of course, but the pain, discomfort and the additional damage that would be caused by the untreated disease is at least being addressed and abated.
Please pray for him and the thousands of children living in similar circumstance as a result of the neighbouring conflict, strife, fighting and discord.
May all hear, and understand the Prince of Peace who changes hearts and lives and brings true, real peace.