Homs, a city in Western Syria, was the site of devastation during the war in Syria. The war took a heavy toll its residents, and living conditions were dire. It was also Huda Al Dabagh’s hometown.
In 2013, Huda and her family fled Homs and found refuge in Amman, Jordan. When she arrived, she was not well. “My health wasn’t good … and I was also psychologically devastated. I had high blood pressure, depression and also very dry eyes,” she recalls.
Friends advised her to visit Caritas Jordan, a faith-based organisation that serves refugees and vulnerable populations. “I was told that they give free health services for refugees and they are very helpful and provide good treatment,” she says.
At the clinic, she learned that she had high blood pressure – and then learned how she could improve her health through counselling sessions on lifestyle modifications, implemented in partnership with the Royal Health Awareness Society and in close coordination with the Ministry of Health.
“I followed their advice, lost weight and now have stable hypertension. I still follow up with the nutritionist – I feel the improvement, in my body and my mind,” she says.
Now 43, Huda lives with her husband Nidal and children: four girls and one boy. She visits Caritas daily, but today, she is part of a close-knit volunteer group working within her community and in Caritas clinics.
“My volunteering work starts at 9:00 am and ends at 2:00 pm every day, then after work I am back home, I start cooking, cleaning, and helping my children with their homework, sometimes I visit my parents or my neighbours,” she says. “I’m now more energetic, having my daily routine, seeing people and helping them. Volunteering with Caritas makes me happy.”
Huda has something else she would like people to know about her.
“I’d like people to know my success story with my mother. She had health problems and I helped her to get better by encouraging her to follow healthy lifestyle, eating healthy food and walking together whenever we can,” she says, adding:
“I love sharing what I’ve learned.”
Huda Al Dabagh received NCD prevention and management services through ‘Jordan Integrated NCD-humanitarian response, WDF19-1732’, a multi-sectoral partnership to reduce the burden from NCDs in Jordan for refugee populations and vulnerable host communities.