“I was scared for my children. It is why I left Syria.” — Nozha
“It was always a horror not finding my children when I went to pick them up from school. I had to search for them everywhere amidst the bombings and explosions.” — Lobna
“I was forced to leave my country. Because of the war, the whole region was besieged. There was no way to live there.” — Fadia
More than 115,000 Syrian refugees live in Egypt. Fadia is one of them.
In 2013, Fadia fled Syria with her family, including two daughters-in-law and her young grandsons. They made their way to Egypt. “When we arrived, we were grieving. It was scary not knowing what would happen to us. We had to obtain residency, enroll the children in school, rent a house — and find health care.”
Since 1996, Egypt’s population has grown from 62 million to more than 93.5 million. That’s 50% more people in just 20 years. During this time, Pathfinder International has partnered with the government to bring critical health care to the doorsteps of Egypt’s hard-to-reach communities. Today, this includes Syrian refugees.
Beginning in 2015, Pathfinder ran a pilot program with the Ministry of Health in Egypt to increase the resilience of Egypt’s health systems to serve a growing number of Syrian refugees settling in greater Cairo.
“I came to this clinic with my daughters-in-law when they were pregnant,” said Fadia, “Then I volunteered.”
With support from the project, outreach workers like Fadia made nearly 2,000 home visits — sharing critical health information and introducing families to quality services at the clinic.
“I felt the necessity to help people… learn more about their problems and suffering, and work hard to help solve them,” said an outreach worker named Lobna Noheil Zein El Din.
Lobna was trained by Pathfinder’s project to raise awareness about health care for newborns, children, adolescents, pregnant women, first aid, among other services. And she was selected to serve on the facility’s board, representing all outreach workers.
“It is very important that I support others who are in the same situation as me.”
“At first, most of the Syrian families I supported were afraid and suspicious of the services they would get in the health facility,” said Fadia, “We built trust.”
Fadia explains why families like hers rely on Egypt’s public health system. “Everything is expensive at private clinics.”
She and her fellow outreach workers are passionate about helping Syrian families access affordable, quality health care in a safe and welcoming environment.
“I introduced other Syrian families to health services they didn’t know about. And I built a very good social network with them. When I help people in need,” said Fadia, smiling, “I feel I am of use.”
Photography by Kareem Reda