|Miriam: Sometimes I say that coming to terms with trauma is like opening a packed wardrobe. When you open the door a tangled mess pours out at you; you must sort through it before it can be carefully folded away.
A glimpse of hope
Working as a psychologist in Shatila is challenging because, unlike other places where I’ve worked, the problems here are not purely related to mental health. It’s challenging to help a person with a mental health issue if their larger problem is that they are unable to feed their children or to find a safe place to stay.
Working here with MSF, I have learned that refugees are stuck in a limbo between the past and the present. On the one hand, they yearn to be in their countries, in their own houses, with their loved ones. But it is not a choice for them when their houses no longer exist, when they are at constant risk of death, or have no means to sustain themselves. On the other hand, they wish to be in a safe place. But they are fighting daily to find enough food to eat, a safe place to shelter, and people who regard them with respect.
My reward for working here is to see how people’s lives change after receiving our services. I’ve seen people start to accept the reality of their situation and develop resilience. I’ve seen people who have been able to change their circumstances through psychological support. And I’ve seen people who have started to have hope in humanity after realizing that there was someone who cared.
To see one smile on a broken face, one glimpse of hope in a hopeless heart, or one word of gratitude from lips that were silent, is enough for me to know that this work is worthwhile.