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A New Role in an Uncertain World

by Sarah Austria | May 08, 2017


Like many homes, Noufa’s has the warm smells of cooking spices. A stove sits in the middle of the home, and the room is warmly decorated with wall hangings. Unlike many homes, though, Noufa’s isn’t a house - it’s a tent. Noufa and her family are refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

Syrian-refugee-Noufa
Regular bombings forced Noufa and her family to flee their home in Syria. Despite losing so much - her home, her education, and a secure future - Noufa spends her free time serving as a Refugee Outreach Volunteer in the settlement. Now, she has the knowledge to provide healthcare for her fellow refugees.  

In Syria, her father was a taxi driver and the family lived with her grandparents. They were very poor, but she was still able to attend school. Noufa, unmarried and the oldest in her family, lives with her parents and seven siblings in an informal refugee settlement.

The family fled their home in Raqqa, Syria after the regular bombings became too much to endure. In Syria, Noufa was only a year from graduating high school. More than two years later, Noufa still longs for an education.  

Now in Lebanon, none of the siblings attend school. They tried, but it was too expensive. They’ve lost everything. Like Noufa’s family, many Syrian refugees in Lebanon have little or no financial resources. Around 70% live below the poverty line. According to the United Nations Refugee organization, only 22% of refugee adolescents (vs. 84% of adolescents world-wide) receive a secondary education.

Instead of attending school, Noufa works in the fields during the summer and in a grocery store during the winter. When it rains, water pours into their tent. And, when the water tanks in the settlement are empty, she must walk two kilometers to fill water bottles for her family.

Her situation can be discouraging - but she’s found a bright spot. While not the traditional education she sought, she is still able to learn. “In Syria, I hoped that I could continue my education,” she shared, “but that wasn’t possible. I volunteer with MTI to learn more.”  When she’s not working, Noufa serves as a Refugee Outreach Volunteer with Medical Teams International.  As part of her volunteer responsibilities, she is trained to measure blood pressure, blood sugar, and follow-up with patients with non-communicable diseases. This allows our clinics to have much greater impact, reaching more and more refugees in need.

Noufa’s volunteer involvement has given her a practical education that she put to use immediately. Her training is an obvious benefit to the patients she cares for,  but it’s also invaluable to Noufa.

In a place with few educational opportunities, Noufa’s training has given her a critical role in her uncertain world.

Thanks to you, Medical Teams International has trained over 500 Refugee Outreach Volunteers in 100 informal refugee settlements in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.  Volunteers are a critical component to the health of thousands of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.