Miles2smile Stories

The Joy of helping Shama’s family

“Our luck has turned. We didn't know where we will go and what we will do. Miles2Smile saved us from the misery".

8 Min Read

A married woman, Shama (name changed) has been living in India for more than a year now. She had come to India from Yemen with her husband and three children to seek treatment for one of her sons, Mazen Nedhal Mustufa, who suffers from congenital glaucoma, and faces difficulties in seeing properly. 

Doctors in Yemen suggested Mazen’s family an immediate surgery to prevent the gradual increase in intraocular pressure in his eye that can lead to blindness, if left untreated. 

The ongoing crisis and conflict in Yemen made it difficult for them to get Mazen treated. Moreover, the treatment procedures suggested by the doctor were not available in their home country. So, the family arranged to come to India due to its developed healthcare and medical facilities. 

Shama is a 35 year-old biologist and a Hafiz-e-Quran, while her husband Nedhaal, is a 42-year old engineer. Their eldest son Emad and their daughter Leen are 16 and 5 years old respectively. The eldest son Emad also has asthma issues which makes him prone to colds and other respiratory problems during the winter. Emad was only able to pursue his studies till 11th grade as the family had to leave their country. Leen, on the other hand, got no opportunity to obtain any formal schooling because of the special circumstances of her family. 

It has been more than a year now since Shama and her family arrived in India with a hope to get their son treated. However, their experience in India has been bitter till now. The family has been visiting different eye hospitals but have not been able to get any proper treatment for their son as India has a really complicated refugee policy and the family could not afford the private medical bills either.

Shama says, she didn’t know what else she could do except wait for the better days to come.

It was not easy for the family to sustain here as all of them could communicate in and understand Arabic. Only Shama could speak in English, which was not enough as the majority of the people in Delhi spoke Hindi. 

The family initially lived in a rented house in Malviya Nagar in Delhi; however shortly after, as they spent all their savings due to the traveling and living expenses, they had to move out from their rented place and camp on the street in a plastic tent. 

Furthermore, they sought treatment in a private hospital, where the doctors performed two surgeries on Mazen but in vain. The hospital was interested in extracting money from the family. As a consequence of these surgeries, Mazen lost sight in the right eye. 

Having no other means to find shelter and a proper medical treatment, they approached UNHRC to seek assistance. All the doors appeared to be closed for the family and UNHRC was their only hope visible in such times.  

Shama told us that the UNHRC did not extend their support, saying that they do not help Yemeni refugees. Not only this, the organization also alerted the police officials. The authorities began to interrogate the family. They also tortured Nedhaal and put him in jail for some days. Shama told us that a personal also tried to pull off her hijab. 

Fortunately, a journalist reported the awful situation of the family. Following which, the officials stopped their interrogation and released them. The same journalist helped the distressed family of Shama in contacting Miles2SMile and t us about Shama’s family and the predicament they were encountering in a foreign country with no relatives or friends to help. 

Miles2Smile decided to help Shama’s family so that they can build their lives here with dignity after spending a full year away from their homeland Yemen. 

We began by providing them with financial assistance so that they could pay their rent. We also provided the family with a few household appliances, as well as text books and drawing books, to the kids especially the little vivacious Leen, who never fails to awe us with her million dollar smile and her creative doodling that she makes on her drawing books to show us whenever she pays us a visit.

We also gave Shama blankets and jackets that were donated by someone this month. While wearing the jacket, Shama started crying and said something in arabic. When we asked what she said, she replied “ may Allah give the warmth of this to the one who donated it”.

Seeing Mazen’s condition, we also contacted doctors and hospitals in our network to get the best possible treatment for him. Shama was grateful for receiving the kind assistance. Presently, with the help of you all, her family is living in a better condition and has a roof above their head. 

Shama and her family had covered miles for Mazen. We are happy that we covered only a few miles to see the family smile in these testing times. 

Shama’s story is not an uncommon one. A large number of people from Yemen have been migrating to other countries across the world in search of better opportunities, or a better life,  since Saudi Arabia started an all-out war against Yemen in 2015, resulting in a massive humanitarian crisis that has killed over 10,000 people, so far.  According to UN figures, there are approximately 3 million Yemeni refugees in neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. The majority of these refugees belong to rural areas who are forced out due to various reasons including war, famine, epidemics, and diseases.

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