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When Aisha and her neighbor finally arrived in Amman, the sickly Nuh and Majd were suffering from amoebic dysentery, perhaps carried by flies or picked up from the dirty pools in the camp, explains pediatrician Dr. Saba Ghawi. Nuh was severely malnourished, a consequence of the parasites and the poor quality of food available to his family.

“He was very thin,” Dr. Ghawi says.

Four days later, the two children lie in their beds in a clean, sunlit hospital room. Nuh still has splints on both his arms where the hospital had given him intravenous feeding, but he is well fed and smiling, laughing with his mother. Next to him, Majd sleeps peacefully, her dark hair peeping out from wrapped blankets. Their mothers are smiling and chatting, relieved.

But their future remains grim. The children are ready to be discharged, and that means returning to the harsh and unsanitary conditions of the camp. With no end in sight to the conflict in Syria, Aisha and tens of thousands of mothers like her may be forced to remain in Jordan for months, years — perhaps decades. The scale of the crisis underway is scarcely imaginable — both in its effects on the refugees, and on the countries that have been generous enough to accept them.

The aid will never be enough. But every gift, even the smallest, can help save young lives like Nuh and Majd’s — at least for one more day.

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Nicholas Seeley covers the Middle East from Jordan. His reporting has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor and Foreign Policy. He has just published an e-book about daily life in the Za’atari refugee camp, A Syrian Wedding.



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