Relief International’s WASH Program Manager, Deepa Patel, Reports from the Field in Jordan

April 9, 2013


Relief International’s WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) Program Manager, Deepa Patel, reports from the field in Jordan with a heartfelt story of how her team came to the aid of a little Syrian girl. Deepa touches upon the immense sense of community, support and trust built between Syrian families and Relief International’s team.


Since January, Relief International’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) team has been working with host communities in North Jordan where nearly no other organization has yet been able to assist. The perseverance of the WASH team to reach the most vulnerable Syrian refugees has meant driving to remote areas, walking far on foot to access households and spending long hours in cold, rough conditions. 

One such area is a small rural town, Al Kom al Ahmar, 25 kilometers outside of Mafraq, where many Syrian refugee families are living in abysmal conditions as a means to earn a living by working on farms.  Many of the refugee families living in this area escaped Syria over six months ago but where afraid to enter the Za’atari refugee camp and knew of no other way to care for their family except to find whatever work possible. Relief International has been assisting families in this area, providing winter clothing for children, essential hygiene items, health education, child-friendly interactions and general social support.  



In the photo above: Relief International Hygiene Promoters on a visit to deliver a hygiene kit to Mumtaz’s* family.


Today, during a routine house-to-house follow up visit, a mother, Mumtaz,* alerted the Relief International team that her two-year-old daughter had fallen into a ditch in the farm where they are living. Two days had passed and the child was in extreme pain, restless and had a high fever. The family is not registered with UNHCR and they were afraid they would be turned away if they went for treatment at a hospital. All of that is beside the point. Living in such a rural area, they have almost no means of getting to a hospital.



Above: Mumtaz* recounts what happened to her daughter. 


The Relief International team has always said that they are hygiene promoters but that they also visit the families to provide comfort and support in any way they can. Upon seeing the child and hearing Mumtaz’s concerns, the hygiene promoters who visited her, Dina and Akhram, drove Mumtaz and the child to a hospital in Mafraq. It turned out that the child had a broken arm and an upper respiratory infection and was able to receive excellent treatment.



Above: Relief International Hygiene Promoters, Dina and Akhram, with the little girl, crying, but with her cast and on the road to recovery.


Though we are a small team with limited funding and our ability to aid in the face of such a large crisis can sometimes feel overwhelming, I am proud that the Relief International team goes above and beyond any duty to assist in any way possible. We are more than just a WASH team!




*Name has been changed.

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