As part of our collaboration with Syria Deeply we are cross-posting a series of articles that capture civilian voices caught in the crossfire, along with perspectives on the conflict from writers around the world.
Below is a conversation between News Deeply and Ayesha, a 29-year-old woman living in the Atma refugee camp in Idlib Province, in northwest Syria. She is one of an estimated 50 pregnant women in the camp of internally displaced Syrians; volunteers tell us there’s an acute need for baby milk.
Ayesha lives cheek-to-jowl in a thin, muddy tent with her family. Her children have only the thin clothes on their backs and the daily food ration provided by the camp’s communal kitchen. She’s terrified of the toll the mounting cold and wet winter will take on a fragile newborn baby. As she stood on a muddy hill near her tent, clutching her four-year-old’s hand, we asked her to talk about what it’s like being heavily pregnant in a refugee camp.
I already have 10 children. I don’t have clothes for the new baby. There’s no money to buy anything. How will we get him warm clothes and a warm place to stay?
I check in at the clinic at the camp once a week and they give me a painkiller. I need medicine to ease pain in my stomach. I’m from Idlib. Before getting here, I used to go to a private doctor at a private clinic.
I’m afraid to have a newborn. We’re suffering so much from the cold, we’re already getting so sick from it. I have so much pain in my stomach. It’s caused by the cold, by the conditions we’re living in.
There’s a woman in the camp who is designated to help with births. I’ll give birth in Kar, which is a town near here, or at the Dana Hospital in Atma.
My husband is here with me, but he no longer has work. He does nothing all day.
All Assad’s people want is to go back to their big houses. They don’t care about anything. They don’t care about these kids. All these other countries [who don’t help us] hate us.
[Ayesha’s son, four-year-old Sahed, is holding a cardboard box containing a product called Lactacyd. I ask our male translator to ask her what it is. Ayesha blushes modestly, telling him it’s vaginal wash. We all have a chuckle, then Ayesha defuses the awkward moment.]
You see…there are moments here that are funny, that make us laugh, even in the midst of all the sadness.