My thoughts and prayers are with you my dear Syrian heroes.
TRANSLATED FROM ARABIC BY NAGAT YASSINE
After 26 days spent in Preševo's camp, along with those heroic refugees, I can say that the time I spent there was the highlight of my life so far! Here I am now, sitting in front of my computer trying to recall those unforgettable, heartwarming memories I have left of such a lifetime experience.
On my first day there, I was taken to where I was to receive patients; a tiny, modest clinic, where I met those heroic refugees, treated them, and couldn't but get attached to each one of them. I received many patients during my stay in Serbia; I still remember their stories and their medical conditions, as if it was yesterday.
I will never forget the first patient I treated there; she was an Iraqi Kurdish young woman, who had an eye infection, I treated her wishing her a more fulfilling life, and so we did with thousands of other patients, whose faces are all carved in my memory.
Not in a million years will I ever forget you dear Warda. Warda came from "Der-Ezzor"- one of the largest cities in Syria. For a woman who was only nineteen and in her fourth month of pregnancy, she suffered a great deal of loss and pain. She came to see me after she has been informed that one of her twin babies was dead. She was shivering, with high fever, pale face caused by anemia and malnutrition, not to mention that she had a urinary tract infection. Regardless of all the bad symptoms she had, she only wanted me to check on her fetus's health. I checked her, gave her some antibiotics and other medications, and told her that she should go to a hospital outside of Šid if she's concerned about the fetus, which she refused, for it would cause her to be separated from her family. She preferred to stay with them, continuing their desperate trip to Germany
On that day, I remember when a young man, the same age as me, came to me begging for some pain killers so that he'd be able to help his wife with carrying their babies. Regardless of his severe medical condition, he refused to be checked. He was very pale, weak, and had a persistent vomiting. He apologized for the mess he caused, and was about to leave until I stopped him. First I couldn't but hug him for his bravery, and tell him how brave I think he is and that I was there for him, and most importantly that he must stay and let me treat him. He stayed eventually, thanks God.
The same scenario kept happening again and again every day; patients who had severe health conditions but still refused to stay for few hours in the clinic for they don't want to be left alone, or separated from their families.
Another remarkable man I met there was Abu Mohammed. He's encountering the experience of being a refugee for the second time in his life; he has been deported from Palestine 67 years ago, lived most of his life in the Syrian Palestinian Yarmouk camp, and now heading to… God knows where.
-Abu Mohammed: are you from Palestine doctor?
-Me: yes, I'm from Haifa, how did you know that?
- Abu Mohammed: Based on your dialect, I'm a Palestinian too. I was deported from Lubia 67 years ago.
Then, all of a sudden, he pressed my hand and started to cry, and continued saying: "oooh doctor, here I am being deported for the second time, along with my family. This is an unjust world."
In the end he asked for his medications and said: "send my love to my beloved Lubia". He was fighting back tears as he spoke. That was definitely one of the scenes that most affected me ever.
As soon as he left my clinic, a crippled young man in a wheel chair came in, with his little brother pulling the wheelchair though he was exhausted. They told me that he was hit by the Syrian army, and cannot walk again, and asked me to check on his wound for it might be infected. I assured them that it was recovering well, and there was no need to worry about it. Then, while I was writing down his name and other details, I saw the little brother trying very hard to put him back in his chair. That was very touching, I felt something I have never felt before, and couldn't withhold my tears, or myself from hugging that little Syrian hero.
To those unfortunate refugees, New Year's Eve was not that special occasion, on the contrary, that night was one of the worst nights in their lives. It was minus fifteen degrees, and there were about thirty children standing outside the crowded tent of UNHCR. We tried to find them a warm and "safe" place to stay the night.
One of the toughest moments I faced in that camp was when we received a phone call at 3:30 in the morning from one of the volunteers, informing us they had an emergency; a two-year-old baby was fighting for his life. We went there as fast as we could, but there was nothing much we could have done at that moment. He had a congestive heart failure, and was unconscious when we got there. He needed to be taken to Germany, for his condition required an urgent surgery. Unfortunately, since we were short on time, he did not make it. His name was Fahd Osama, two-year-old with Down syndrome, from Deer Ezzoor, died on January 11, 2016. Another loss to humanity…
We buried him the same day, in Preševo, along with the other immigrants, away from what once was their home.
Fahd's incident was one of many similar incidents that happened, and are still happening to many Syrian babies. And believe me; hearing about it in the news is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes. Everything changes the moment you go and meet those refugees.
Now that I'm back, every time I'm in the train station, I can't but remember the old rusty train that used to transport thousands of refugees to their "promising" destinations, being their only hope for a better world. My thoughts and prayers are with you my dear Syrian heroes.
Preševo camp_Serbia. 2016
Dr. Kamil Melshy is a graduate of the Technion Medical School, class of 2015. 26 years old, from Haifa. He belongs to an Arab Christian family from Nazareth.