Midwives and Surprises: Our Visit with Marwa

A new baby is held, while her mother looks on. They are displaced Arabs living in Kurdistan.

Her shirt sleeve was slowly pulled back, and we all gasped a little when we saw the skin peeling from her arm–the long, white leading edge curling away like ribbon, bright pink skin underneath. When we met her yesterday, she was 3-days old, and already nursing her first trauma.

Somehow during the taxi ride home from the hospital, her clothing got wet with kerosene. Once home and close to a heater to keep warm–her clothes caught fire. She now has burns on one arm from shoulder to wrist, ointment to speed the healing, and parents grateful that the burns aren’t worse.

As if life isn’t hard enough when you’re born into a displaced family, and living far from home.


We had already delivered a heater and carpet, food and some other basic supplies to the family. Last week we stopped by with warm coats, and some warm clothes for their three children. Marwa didn’t greet us outside, rather she stayed back in the house, close to her sleeping mat. Her husband mentioned that she wasn’t feeling well. While pregnancy isn’t openly discussed here, she was obviously carrying a child. Amongst our friends are a pair of Arabic-speaking midwives from Europe, so this week we added the pair to our team for a visit to displaced Arab families.

Our plans for yesterday included visits to two pregnant women, and a woman who has had seven miscarriages. As it happened, we visited one pregnant woman, a woman who has had seven miscarriages, a new mama–Marwa, and her new baby.

Tucked into the back room, dark except for the light of one window, the midwives sat on the floor and spent time with Marwa and her baby. The midwives held and fussed, consulted and advised. There were discussions about jaundice, iron deficiency, breast feeding, and a check to see how well the burn was healing. 

When we finally got ready to leave, and knelt to kiss Marwa good-bye (twice on the right cheek, then once on the left) she said ‘Thank you’ to each of us, in perfect English.

We brought midwives to Marwa, and later iron tablets, but our biggest gift that day was simply showing up. We reminded this family, once surrounded by community, that they are not forgotten. 

And not for the first time, we found ourselves visiting at the perfect moment.