The author is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor of Biomedical Engineering, Worldwide Well being and Drugs at Boston College. He tweets @mhzaman
Qabb Ilyas is a small city within the Bekaa valley of Lebanon not removed from the Syrian border. The final three years have modified the very nature of this city. Almost a 3rd of the individuals who stay right here at the moment are Syrian refugees who crossed the mountains with little extra than simply garments on their again. Some have come by means of the right channels, most have simply crossed over with none correct documentation. The refugee camps round Qabb Ilyas paint a coronary heart-breaking image. Youngsters are sometimes malnourished, pregnant moms want care, and accidents are fairly widespread.
On a chilly Saturday morning a few days in the past, our driver Moosa took me and a colleague Dr Krista Donaldson (CEO of a medical system firm, D-Rev) to Qabb Ilyas. The winding roads from Beirut have been marked by common safety checkpoints staffed by armed guards, a reminder of the continued disaster. Tucked between native companies promoting winter garments and recent meat is a small main well being clinic operated partially by the efforts of native NGOs and worldwide donors. Right here, the variety of sufferers have elevated ten-fold within the final three years. What was a facility to see a number of hundred individuals a yr now sees almost a ten thousand. Women and men, infants, toddlers and infants come right here to get higher. Whether or not it’s vaccination or details about household planning, remedy of an damage, examine up throughout being pregnant or administration of a persistent illness, this small facility has grow to be exemplary in Lebanon. It goes past most amenities by providing eye care, dental care and even lab tests inside the facility.
Maintaining the place collectively is not any straightforward activity. It isn’t nearly offering care to hundreds who include all types of illnesses but in addition ensuring that the payments are paid, that the electrical energy continues to perform, that the drugs and vaccine provides are maintained, and that the place stays clear and welcoming.
On the helm of this small clinic is an easy man with a broad smile and an enormous coronary heart. A physician who has spent the final thirty years of his life in Qab-Ilyas: a Pakistani physician from Mardan, Dr Darwesh Khan.
Dr Khan greeted us with conventional Pashtun hospitality. His workplace partitions are adorned with certificates of commendation from organisations all over the world. Within the final three years, he has been a really busy man, seeing as many as seventy sufferers or extra a day, almost day-after-day. However he isn’t one to complain. His broad smile was comforting and reassuring. It mirrored each the simplicity of his individual and the depth of his dedication. By no means asking whether or not the affected person got here to the city legally or illegally, or questioning what religion they could profess, he was deeply inspiring. He works intently with the employees atInternational Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and is equally snug with Muslim charities in addition to organisations which might be secular. His work transcends the boundaries which have so viciously divided us.
Darwesh Khan had little curiosity in speaking about himself or how he does all of it. He was much more considering reminding us that this can be a workforce effort, giving credit score to his two fellow docs, nurses and midwives who work with him. Switching effortlessly between Arabic, English and Urdu, Dr. Khan took the time to point out us round and reply each single query that we had. Each single time with a broad smile that radiates kindness and understanding.
The issues in Qabb Ilyas are a reminder of the evil inside us. It was painful and heartbreaking to go to the refugee settlement. Our collective failure, on the particular person, institutional and international degree is palpable and visual within the eyes of harmless youngsters on the settlement. The shortage of empathy from the worldwide powers generally, and the regional powers particularly, is clear and makes for a intestine-wrenching expertise on the camp.
But, within the midst of this all, are individuals like Darwesh Khan, who by means of a pressure of compassion and with the talents to match, are displaying us methods to reside higher lives.
Revealed in The Categorical Tribune, December 15th, 2016.
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