MAP’s midwives bring healthcare and hope to Palestinian women and babies in Lebanon

Amid an ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis, 2023 is set to be another challenging year for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. But Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is doing everything it can to bring healthcare and hope to those most at risk, and ensure the youngest refugees have a chance at a healthy start in life. In this interview, we spoke to an inspiring woman who is receiving essential support from one of our team of community midwives.

Can you tell us about yourself and what life is like for you?

“My name is Hanadi* and I am 30 years old. I am a mother of three daughters, the youngest is four months old. I live in Ein el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. My family lives away from me in another camp in south Lebanon. My husband used to work as a sanitation worker for around 10 years, but since the beginning of the economic crisis, he lost his job. He has not been able to secure steady work since then, but occasionally finds temporary jobs as a day labourer. My husband’s health is not good; he suffers from bad back pain which further limits his work options.

Our financial situation is very difficult, especially with inflation and the very bad economic conditions in the country. Even though my baby is only four months old, I have been looking for any work to support my family. There are many essential things we are no longer able to afford. We gave up many things to be able to pay for my daughters’ schools and private tutoring, because my husband and I are illiterate and cannot help them with studying. I also have to buy baby nappies and other supplies.

These dire living conditions in the camp and the poor security situation, including armed conflicts every now and then, affect children’s wellbeing. My husband and I are always concerned for the safety of our daughters, so we do not let them play outside and we accompany them to school. We cannot afford to rent a house outside the camp; so we have to do our best to keep our children safe.”

How did you learn about MAP’s work and the midwives’ services, and why did you decide to seek their help?

“I have been hearing about the work of MAP’s midwives and nurses for many years. They are well-known and respected in the camp. Mothers love them and welcome them in their homes. I had two previous miscarriages, so when I knew about my pregnancy, I sought their help. The MAP nurse, Lamis, followed up with me throughout the pregnancy and continued to visit me at my home after childbirth.”

Can you share more about your experiences with MAP’s nurse Lamis?

“It has been a great experience. I feel like Lamis is part of my family; she is very close to my heart. I feel comfortable and relaxed when she visits despite all the challenges that I am facing.

“I have been hearing about the work of MAP’s midwives and nurses for many years. They are well-known and respected in the camp. Mothers love them and welcome them in their homes.”

Lamis visits me at home and gives me enough time to talk, discuss my concerns, and ask questions – which is never the case in the doctor’s clinic. I really appreciated Lamis’ visits after childbirth. My daughter was born underweight. When Lamis visited, she weighed her, gave me advice and support on baby care and breastfeeding, and reassured me by telling me that my baby is fine and I am doing a good job. These visits made me very happy.”

How does MAP’s work impact you and your community?

“Women in the camp feel that there is someone who cares about them and their health and wellbeing. This feeling is very important to us, especially as we face considerable challenges and struggles on a daily basis. We feel psychological comfort and relax when we find someone who treats us kindly, listens to our concerns, and answers all our health, pregnancy, and new-born care related questions. Lamis and the other midwives always have a very nice attitude and a warm smile when they talk to the mothers.”

What has been the most useful aspect provided by the nurses and midwives?

“Everything that the nurses and midwives do during the visits is important and useful, but for me weighing the baby with the scales that they bring with them and examining the baby are the parts that help me relax and feel happy the most. For example, today I was feeling that my daughter is not breathing well. But, after giving her a check-up, Lamis reassured me that everything is normal.”

Do you have any last words for MAP and the supporters who made this project possible?

“I want to thank everyone who made this project possible, as well MAP’s midwives and nurses for caring for us and our children. I hope this project continues to run for a long time to help more Palestinian mothers and children. I also hope it continues to see improvements in the community’s awareness of baby care and the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies. Thank you.”

Thank you for supporting the health and dignity of Palestinian women and children in Lebanon. Please consider making a donation today to continue the essential work of our midwives and nurses.


*Name has been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

With special thanks to The Balcombe Trust.

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