Recently I visited different IDP* and refugee camps in Iraq & Iraqi Kurdistan and talked to a lot of people who fled from war and violence. One of the camps I’ve visited was Basirma Camp in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan. I’ve spoken and listened to many people, one of them was a mother of 6 who came to this camp four years ago to find safety. As we started talking her youngest son was holding on to her tightly and looking at me with his big, beautiful and innocent eyes. The world has done nothing wrong in those eyes and pain and fear are made up words without real meaning.
“He was born here. Actually, he was born nearby in Harir. When I got into labor there was no medical assistance on site so my husband and I had to walk to the nearest town.” Yes, just like you probably just did I also had to think about that sentence for a little bit. Having to walk a few miles to the nearest town while being in labor just to find the most basic medical assistance. It’s hard to wrap your head around that. It’s unimaginable.
“They don’t have a real hospital there but a small clinic was able to see and assist me.” The doctors and nurses there were far from hospitable and warm. They treated her like an animal and barely gave the bare minimum medical assistance that is needed for a healthy and safe child birth.
It seems unreal because we have pregnancy yoga, pregnancy books, birth plans, back up birth plans, doulas, mid wives, special beds & pillows, soothing music, therapy, premium health care and I don’t know what we all have to make sure a woman is able to give birth in the most loving and safe environment imaginable. And yet there are women who don’t even have access to the bare minimum which endangers both them and the baby.
She continued to tell us that besides all she had to go through they also judged her and were very vocal about it. One of the things they judged her for was the fact that she had another baby while being a refugee and not being able to offer a stable life for her baby. She couldn’t even find an ounce of respect after having walked several miles mid labor. She sighed very deeply and looked at her son who climbed into her save and strong arms while we spoke.
“You can have your opinions and maybe you’re right. You can tell me your concerns and maybe I agree and maybe I don’t. But can we all agree that for everything there is a time and place. And maybe, just maybe, those opinions shouldn’t have been shared with me while I was in the middle of giving birth to my beautiful son.”
It’s shocking how people sometimes treat each other. How humanity sometimes doesn’t seem to exist. How it can feel that respect is just a mere concept that no one knows about. I think we can all agree that no matter what the situation is, whether it’s dire or not, we should always be able to give and find respect. Human to human. Every woman should be able to give birth in a safe, warm and loving environment. No child should have to come into this world where the first moments are filled with judgment, anger and fear.
Fortunately, he has no idea what his mother experienced. And his eyes will stay innocent for a long, long time while his parents make sure that even in this situation he won’t have to know the meaning of pain and fear.