I read this piece on the Time website this morning. Briefly, the moving stories told on the one hand show that presumably Arabic spoken Syrian women in refugee camps (e.g. in Greece) are without regular health checks, especially when needed during pregnancy. They are often displaced from usual family support networks and left dangerously floundering, severely hindered by language handicaps. Even when in good medical hands, sometimes too late, their lack of common language leaves them frightened and disadvantaged.
On the other hand, what was interesting, was that many of such women have access to mobile phones and YouTube – something they use to educate themselves with. In the absence of their own mothers or other educational outlets, they search for and watch relevant YouTube videos and educate themselves.
It made me wonder if they could access Arabic to English or English to Arabic pregnancy healthcare education YouTube videos. I did a quick search. Nothing was immediately apparent. There was a nice little video in English helping non Arabic speaking people learn how to say a few nice well wishes to pregnant women in Arabic, but beyond that there was nothing I saw. Nothing that would help women to communicate from Arabic to English and back about their maternity. I did find purely English pregnancy vocabulary videos, and Arabic pregnancy healthcare tips. But there was nothing to fill the void to help those with language barriers in such circumstances.
Put yourself in the shoes of a pregnant Syrian refugee living in a camp. You’ve got a phone with YouTube access but not much else. You’ve got time. You’ve got no regular health care visits or prenatal care. How great would it be if there was a UN maternal healthcare educational YouTube channel that provided Arabic and Arabic to English (and vice versa) instruction. How great would it also be to provide a two way communication channel for such women, who could connect with UN maternity nurses in lieu of regular ante natal care.
There’s obviously a need for this gap to be filled. If it’s already filled then it needs promoting better. I hope these women get the help they need.