Five days of visits to Syrian families seeking refuge in Jordan introduced me to many children. Some were ill requiring examination from the three doctors on our team. Their siblings, cousins and grandparents crowded into the apartment to see if the Americans could improve the health of one of their own.
The ailments ranged from winter viruses making the rounds in throats and sinuses, to vision problems, to diabetes. One 11-year-old boy lost hearing in his left ear from the artillery shelling by the Syrian army. Nerve damage, he was told, cannot be undone, but it wouldn’t get worse. The Davis doctor who told him that had lost hearing in her right ear 20 years ago.
There is a stigma here that an injured or sick child is damaged goods. Refugee families qualify to get medical care from the Jordanian government. For the most part, and the patient, it works. Receiving house calls from American medical professionals this week was a unique event.
All children suffer from the effects of the war in their country. Running for their lives into a refugee camp or a foreign city with all they could carry is not ideal. Innocence is lost when leaving your home, friends and routines because a desperate regime turns on its own people.
The light in their eyes is not extinguished, however. Childhood has its resiliency despite the emotional walls that may be erected. Not all refugee situations are the same. Some are able to get children into schools in Jordan. Others do not. Continuation of education leads to the possibility of a future, hopefully in Syria.