Hilal is 27 and has worked with Syrian Arab Red Crescent for 10 years across many services including disaster management, first aid, media, psychosocial support, and relief. He has been with the mobile malnutrition team for three years.
“I am on the mobile team, we go to the countryside, to villages, to find any cases of malnutrition. Sometimes we give them vitamins, and some cases we send to the clinic for more attention and supplements. We have a team of 9 volunteers. There are 74 villages on our roster, we can’t reach all of them regularly, so we aim to reach area once a month, and get to each individual village over six months.
“We check around 50 children at each village, and on average around seven to ten will show signs of malnutrition. We use an arm measurement, called the ‘MUAC reading’, to test for malnutrition. With experience, you get to know what to look for. Now I can tell what a child’s MUAC reading will likely be just from looking at them.
“I used to work in psychosocial care so this helps me to handle my emotions in this job, and know how to help others.
“I remember one village, there were three siblings, all with malnutrition. The family were internally displaced, and living in a tent – they had nothing. All three children were acute cases. The boy was a SAM (severe acute malnutrition) case, in the red area of the MUAC band, and his sisters were also badly affected, in the MAM or yellow area. Now they are doing much better, I have seen their progress.
“When I can help a family I take comfort from that and feel happy. Humanitarian work gives me a feeling of happiness.”
The SARC malnutrition clinic in Salamiyah has a base in the town and a mobile team of volunteers who go out to surrounding villages. The malnutrition clinic is one of six such SARC facilities, supported by the Canadian and Japanese Red Cross Societies, in response to the situation faced by displaced people and those living in hard-to-reach areas.