Clinic brings healing, hope to refugees in Jordancomment (0)
May 31, 2012
The child, Mohammed, was too small for his age and looked very fragile. Dr. Amy knew he wasn’t getting enough to eat.
The toddler, his mother, and grandmother, Mama Faiza, step cautiously into Hope Clinic, a free medical service located in the basement of an evangelical church in Amman, Jordan. As Iraqi refugees in Jordan, they expect they will not be welcome.
When a nurse greets them with a warm smile, Mama Faiza actually becomes fearful. She asks hesitantly, “Is there something wrong?” Kindness was the last thing she expected.
“Life for Iraqi refugees in Jordan is far from easy,” said Dr. Amy, who has worked at the clinic for 12 years. “After their initial three-month visa runs out, they are in the country illegally. Iraqis do not qualify for refugee status. Being in the country illegally means they cannot work. ... Not being recognized as refugees also means they have to find their own housing and often are taken advantage of, having to pay far too much for derelict apartments.”
The clinic’s all-volunteer staff said when patients discover they are going to be treated like human beings loved by God, they often say, “You are the only people who have ever treated us as something more than dogs.”
Mama Faiza’s family had gotten along well enough in Jordan because her husband was Palestinian, but when he died they were evicted from their rented apartment. Mama Faiza told the nurse she had a history of diabetes but stopped taking her medicines long ago because she couldn’t afford them.
“At Hope Clinic, we treat people like these Iraqi refugees who cannot afford to go to medical services they have to pay for,” Dr. Amy said. “Most of our patients have chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension or heart diseases. For many, not taking their medication means a quick deterioration of health, with death following.”
Southern Baptists play a significant part in Hope Clinic’s life-saving work through Baptist Global Response (BGR).
Hope Clinic started in 1991 to offer medical care to Iraqis fleeing the Gulf War. In 1998, a team of medical volunteers began serving there, and the clinic slowly expanded its patient base. Today Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Yemenis, Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians and other North Africans receive outpatient family medicine, optometry, physical therapy and prenatal care. In approximately 3,600 patient visits a year clinic staff members help refugees and other people in need experience firsthand the love of God that brings hope for new life.
In a predominantly Muslim country like Jordan, evangelical believers naturally pull together to “be the hands and feet of Jesus” to people in need, said Jeff Palmer, BGR executive director.
“Many people in the world, especially refugees, struggle just to survive from one day to the next,” he said. “When Christians show these refugees the love of God that heals and transforms, it’s like rain in the desert.”
Mama Faiza was deeply moved by her experience at the clinic that day. As she prepared to leave, she reached out to the doctor, gently pulled her head toward hers, and kissed her over and over.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Names have been changed. ReachGlobal, www.efca.org//reachglobal, a key partner in the Hope Clinic endeavor, provided information for this article.