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Amira’s story: fleeing war amid a battle

17 July 2017 Stories of hope

families and children 810x540 3Can you imagine fleeing the trauma of war-torn Syria while pregnant? For 35-year-old Amira* and her husband Elisa*, this was their reality.

Leaving behind all they had ever known, Amira and Elisa’s move to Australia was not smooth-sailing. Isolated, and without any support networks, Amira’s mental health began to deteriorate. Following the birth of their child, Amira was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis and spent three weeks in an inpatient unit.

It wasn’t until Amira was referred to Wesley Mission’s Mums and Kids Matter program that things began to turn around. Within 24 hours Amira’s case was assessed and while initially there were no units available at Mums and Kids Matter’s residential site, an in-home community package was offered until a place became available for Amira’s family. Along with a new home, we arranged for an onsite interpreter to support communication between Amira’s family and our staff at Mums and Kids Matter.

Amira’s health began to improve through attending regular individual and group sessions with a psychologist. Here she learnt strategies to reduce her stress and manage anxiety. Through the support of a mental health nurse, Amira and Elisa were also equipped with the tools to understand her mental health condition and help prevent relapse.

Supporting this family’s child was also a priority. We organised an Arabic-speaking children and family health nurse for Amira’s family and arranged for Amira to see a GP for her child’s immunisations. ‘Hands on support’ was given to help these new parents navigate the challenges of parenthood, such as bathing, feeding, sleeping and settling. Now this family’s primary carer, Elias also met with a male mental health nurse to find the support he needed.

Long-term we desired to help this family settle within a community. We organised an Arabic-speaking counsellor from Wesley Financial Counselling services to help them with their finances. The client transition and engagement team helped them secure stable and affordable accommodation. English language lessons were arranged and Syrian/Arabic television shows were sourced to help them remain up-to-date with current events in Syria. Wesley Mission’s Information Services team also provided the family with a mobile phone so they could remain in contact with extended family members in Syria. 

As Amira’s confidence to manage day-to-day tasks grew, she required less intensive care. Following Amira’s transition from the residential program, a psychologist, mental health nurse and early childhood nurse continued to provide care to Amira, regularly visiting her home to ensure this family remained connected to services in their local community. Since then, NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) advised they were very pleased with Amira’s progress and have closed the case.

*Names have been changed to preserve anonymity