Amena, a Christian Syrian refugee, desperately needed help for her young son, who had accidentally swallowed a seed that obstructed his throat. He needed emergency medical care. She took him to Mercy Medical Clinic, about a 40-minute drive from the refugee camp.
The clinic provides medical, dental, and pharmacy services to refugees in and around the Zaatari refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Jordan. A ministry partner of ANM in Jordan collaborates with the clinic as part of its overall ministry to refugees in the region.
Amena’s son received the urgent help he needed. When she returned to the clinic afterwards to express her thanks, she met Suleiman, the clinic manager, who didn’t just want to heal her son but was willing to listen to her as well. It has been Suleiman’s passion since 1982 to help poor people—whether through medical care at the clinic or through simply offering a welcoming smile, a kind word, or a listening ear. “I never go to sleep unless I do something,” Brother Suleiman shares.
It quickly became clear to Suleiman that Amena had more to share than her thanks on behalf of her son. With tears flooding her eyes, Amena narrated her tragic and heartbreaking story.
Deep pain, deep healing
“Back in Syria I lost one brother when a group of armed men stormed into our house one day and viciously killed him,” Amena began. “A week later armed men came again and took away another brother. In a desperate attempt to fight back, I kicked them hard but to no avail. The men brutally killed my brother outside the house.”
When the men came back to search the house for something, Amena started yelling at them. Enraged, two of the men forcibly grabbed her and pinned her down, and eight men raped her.
Deeply distressed by these tragic events in her life, Amena fled Syria and sought refuge in Jordan. Unbearable pain and secret anguish gnawed at her heart. But she had no way of easing the pain, of finding something or someone to help heal her broken heart. Until that day, when she had to take her young son to the clinic. Amena then knew that she had come to the right place, not just for her physically distressed son but for her deeply bruised heart.
Mercy Medical Clinic offers recovery classes for sexually-abused women. After unburdening herself of the heavy load bottled up inside her, Amena felt free and unshackled. Since then she has been going to the clinic to attend the recovery class for female victims of sexual abuse. The clinic has certainly been a place of renewal and healing for women traumatized by painful and disturbing experiences.
Seeing refugees as human beings
As Amena found, the clinic does more than address the physical needs of the refugees. War, abuse, homelessness, and persecution result in injuries that go far deeper than what medical procedures can heal. Suleiman and his staff, understanding this, are enacting the gospel by building personal relationships with their patients, crossing the boundaries that separate strangers from each other. What war has taken away and destroyed, they begin to put back in place.
At times, refugee families invite Suleiman to their houses for meals. He readily accepts, despite the poor conditions and meager offerings. “I don’t want them to think that I don’t want to eat in their house… We need to [make them] feel that they are human beings.”
Indeed, Mercy Medical Clinic is beaming bright rays of hope and healing to the persecuted.
Jonathan Constant contributed to this article.