Sunday, February 15, 2009

Checking in on a past Micro-Project recipient - Feb 11

Today we go to visit Sabah. Last fall, Sabah was the recipient of a CRP Micro-Project. She received equipment and supplies to do a small home kubba (savory fried tart) business. Her 22 year old daughter, Fadwa, was recently diagnosed with cancer, they have high medical bills and they need help.

We sat with Sabah, Fadwa and Fadwa's grandmother in their miniscule livingroom and looked over all of Fadwa's medical reports. Sabah is anxious about the diagnosis. It seems to us that she does not, naturally, want to believe it. Fadwa's cancer is on her side and causes her great pain. Sabah wonders if, instead of cancer, the problem may be that one of Fadwa's ribs was injured when a friend tried to relieve the pain by doing rigorous massage on her. We look at the xrays and show her how the diseased ribs show plainly in them. We try to comfort her by reading that the cancer has not spread to any other part of Fadwa's anatomy. It is not much comfort, I am afraid.

Fadwa has lost all of her hair from her treatment. She admires my long hair and tells me how she wishes she had blond hair. I tell her that I always wished mine was dark and that I thought her beautiful with her olive skin and dark eyes. I wish I was not so pale so that I could wear bright colours. We finally end up agreeing that all women, everywhere, were not happy with our bodies and wanted the opposite of what our genes have given us. I know Fadwa wants more than a different shade of hair colour. She wants to be like a young woman should be, carefree and vitally alive without cancer and fearing death. But this is too big and sensitive of a subject to discuss openly, especially with aquaintances.

Sabah laments the challenge her daughter faces. As her mother, she cannot bear that her daughter's life is at risk.

I am always amazed that, no matter how hard their problems are, people in the Middle East use the phrase "al hamdilelah" freguently, even after discussing their sorrows. It means, "thanks to God" and recognizes that every experience is a 'gift' and contains something of value for them - even if this gift is difficult to perceive, its presence is acknowledged and thanks for it given.

I can only hope Fadwah's 'gift' is that her cancer teaches her that life is precious and that she will be able to reference this perception throughout a long life.

Insha'allah (God willing)

Maha helps with some cash from her Iraqi donor funds and we give the family a CRP food assistance box.