Meeting Maryam

This year, Kitrinos volunteers have been working alongside NGO Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario in their Chios-based clinic, assisting with healthcare provision for refugees in Vial Camp. Here is an account of one patient, Maryam (name changed to protect privacy), a lady from Somalia who attended the SMH clinic.

“I first met Maryam in the clinic at Vial camp in Chios. She had a wonderful, warm smile and we established a good rapport instantly. She asked me for ‘medication to help her gain weight’. She explained she’d been 70kg in Somalia but now looked completely different and was unhappy with her new hollow cheeks. On further questioning, I discovered that Maryam was struggling to sleep or eat. She was heartbroken: her husband had left for Germany when he received his passport and she hadn’t been able to join him as she was still waiting for hers. She was also distressed by itching in her hands, feet and hair during the night, which further disturbed her sleep. She told me she’d noticed worms in her stools.

On examination I noticed the red bumps and burrows in the webs of her fingers which are typical of scabies, and I found lice in her hair. She weighed 44kg. As well as a variety of vitamins and supplements, I gave her some treatment for the worms, head lice and the scabies. I also referred her for blood analysis at the hospital and urgently to the camp psychologist.

I saw Maryam at least once a week for the next 2 months. Sometimes she came to the clinic just to say hi, sometimes she came to get personal hygiene products like soap and toothpaste which the clinic helps to distribute in collaboration with CESRT / Offene Arme (a non-food item distribution NGO working on the Island). She was referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed her some medication to help her sleep and eat better. I was pleased to find that the treatments I’d prescribed had successfully treated her lice and parasitic infections.

When I last saw Maryam, she’d gained some weight and she had come to say goodbye: her passport had arrived and she was leaving for Germany that night. I congratulated her, said I would miss her and wished her the best of luck on her journey.”

- Volunteer Dr. Eliza, 2021.

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