Restoring the dignity of displaced people: Randa, a grandmother from Syria, is no longer embarrassed by her medical condition

Portrait of a Syrian refugee in Jordan.Portrait of a Syrian refugee in Jordan. Photo: ICMC/ Stefano Schirato Damascus, 20 January 2017 - Randa* is one of the many Syrian elderly who were displaced by the ongoing war and are currently living in the Damascus area. Due to her age, Randa suffers from health issues which resulted, among other things, in incontinence problems. Quite embarrassed by this situation, Randa started hiding at home all day, refusing to meet people and heavily relying on her granddaughter Amira for her everyday needs.

Randa’s condition has been worsened by the fact that hygiene items have become increasingly difficult to buy in war-ravaged Syria. Because of the inflated prices and the shortage of products available in the shops, incontinence pads have become a luxury; Randa cannot afford them any longer.

At some point, the situation became so problematic that Randa was too embarrassed to leave the house anymore. Sadly, staying at home also meant giving up on meeting friends and neighbors, and on attempting to live a normal life even amidst the chaos of the conflict. Randa, who receives some help from humanitarian organizations, also stopped going to their distribution sites, asking her granddaughter Amira to pick up the relief items she needed.

Amira is a resilient, affectionate young woman. As her grandmother’s only caregiver, Amira is always going the extra mile to assist her in her daily routine and comfort her sorrow, while having herself to cope with all the stress of living in a country at war where not being killed is often a matter of luck. Randa, on the other hand, feels like a huge a burden to her family and is extremely saddened by her situation.

One day, Randa was visited by an ICMC staff member. In partnership with Terre des Hommes Syria, ICMC reaches out to the most vulnerable displaced people in the Greater Damascus region, trying to understand their needs and distributing indispensable relief items. As the ICMC motto says, the purpose of these visits is to “restore dignity” among the most vulnerable: the items help displaced people maintain hygienic, appropriate living standards and have a better quality of life.

After hearing her story, the ICMC staff decided to assist Randa by offering her several packages of incontinence pads. It’s now been a while since ICMC’s visit, and Randa’s situation has changed significantly: she has been more willing to leave her home, regaining that dignity and freedom she seemed to have lost since the outbreak of the war. She can now meet people and freely get around the neighborhood, without having to be embarrassed about her age or medical problems. Amira also feels very much relieved, since she now has more time to focus on her own needs.

* The name has been changed to protect the privacy of the person.