Her name means “leader” or “chief” in Arabic. Locals call her “the mother” of their town. She’s the midwife who has delivered every single baby since the war, as the clinic she works in is the only maternity care facility for miles around.
Zaeima is a life bringer.
All over Iraq, towns that have been devastated by violence lose their primary healthcare, among almost all other essential services. On the frontlines of war, doctors and nurses, if they survived and remained, have nowhere to treat their patients, and no machines or medicines necessary for that treatment.
Together with Dr. Hadeel—the doctor who runs the family clinic—Zaiema serves their own town and the smaller villages around it, with a collective population of over 40,000. Both Zaeima and Dr. Hadeel live in this remote community, and they know firsthand the dire needs of the women in it.
Their town is part of a region that has historically seen much extremist violence along political, ethnic, sectarian and tribal lines, of which ISIS is just the latest incarnation. The aftermath of war continues to claim its toll on the population: 70% of the area was destroyed after the fight to reclaim it from ISIS. Work is still in progress to heal the deep political, religious, and ethnic rifts that still exist in the communities. And there is still so much more to be done.
And this was where you met them. Your donations keep this little maternity clinic running, so that hundreds of women have access to vital prenatal and postpartum care, as well as the care that their children require. Because caring for moms—and moms-to-be—also means caring for their families.
It’s an enormous task for a tiny clinic, tending to so many fragile new lives with just 2 people—Dr. Hadeel and Zaiema are the only reproductive health professionals that new moms have access to in this area.
And things are still difficult. The waiting rooms are always full but the care that they can offer is limited to what medication they have in supply: irregular power means that refrigerators for certain vaccines and other temperature-sensitive medication don’t work as they should. Other equipment that requires electrical power is similarly unhelpful in this circumstance. For instance, an incubator for a premature baby is little more than a cot, because it cannot work reliably when it is needed.
The town’s distance from the nearest urban center affects all kinds of things from supply lines to emergency transport. Funding is always a struggle in a country torn apart by war, with incredibly urgent needs in every direction that far outstrips all available budget.
But what this community has is the staunch commitment of Zaiema and Dr. Hadeel to their community… their very big family. That is why they stayed, and continue to stay.
All over Iraq, you’ve helped doctors, nurses, midwives, and other medical professionals serve the people they love by providing medicines, facilities, and equipment to do the work that only they can do.
The good news is that the post-war government in Iraq is slowly taking back the responsibility for these health centers that you helped to keep running when they could not. In the last 12 months, 2 hospitals and 4 health centers that you supported on the frontline have been returned to the Iraqi government. The journey to restoring essential services so that communities can begin rebuilding is a long and difficult one, but it is one that has begun.
And it started with you. Thank you.