Syrian-Armenian ophthalmologist: “Receiving the passport of an Armenian citizen was a new and major stage in my life”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with ophthalmologist Janin Srourian, who repatriated from Syria to Armenia a couple of months ago. During the interview, Janin talked about her past and her medical career in Armenia.

Janin Srourian: I moved from Syria to Armenia three months ago. I am an ophthalmologist and already have my own Srourian Eye Centre, which is located on the second floor of Citadel Business Center. I work alone and have one assistant. I also perform surgeries. I received my medical education at Yerevan State Medical University after Heratsi and specialized in Syria. I have been a doctor for 18 years. Alongside my job, I have always improved my knowledge and skills abroad. Every professional needs to improve his knowledge and skills over time. In Syria I was working for state organizations and healthcare facilities, but I still had my own clinic. Fortunately, it remains standing. Syria had an interesting program that was aimed at fighting against blindness. It was supposed to last until 2020, but the war became a hindrance, and many initiatives were not carried out. We had to work under fire, missiles and shells. Missiles would often be dropped near our clinic, and we worked in those conditions. The pieces of the shells caused mechanical damage to some patients.

Hayern Aysor: Nurse Janin, will you return to Syria after the war?

J. S.: I can’t answer your question because I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I had a job and many patients in Syria, and I have the same in Armenia. Time will tell.

Hayern Aysor: Who is it easier to work with-adults or children?

J. S.: It is easy with everyone, if you show a psychological approach to a patient, try to understand his pain, be caring and approach him as a professional, but present the situation and the degree of the illness in layman’s words. After all, it is about one of the most precious senses-the sense of vision. I convince children and talk in a language they understand. As for adults and elders, they need more care and affection, and that forms a large part of our job.

Hayern Aysor: Janin, what are the frequent problems that people address you with?

J. S.: There are many and various kinds of problems that are also the consequences of diseases, but glaucoma and cataract prevail. I regret to mention that most of our visitors come to see us when their diseases are in a stage when it is impossible to fully treat and recover what they have lost. This especially concerns people suffering from diabetes, most of which face a complicated situation with their retinas since they are already ripped apart. If a person has an eye disease, he must check the bottom part of the eye often and not wait to become blind. It will always be helpful to see a doctor on time and not face severe consequences.

Hayern Aysor: Where have you met people with eye problems the most-in Syria or Armenia? Does geographical area have an essential impact?

J. S.: There are incomparably more people with eye problems in Syria.

Hayern Aysor: Do you have Armenian citizenship?

J. S.: I have visited Armenia often. I have friends and relatives here, studied in Armenia and purchased an apartment in Yerevan in 2011, but there was something missing, a dream that had not come true…Armenia had just passed a law on acquisition of citizenship when I became one of the first lucky Diaspora Armenians to acquire citizenship of the Republic of Armenia. We had always dreamed of having an independent Armenia and be the citizens of that independent country. Obtaining the passport of an Armenian citizen was a new and major stage in my life, better yet, it was a great celebration. I love my birthplace Syria, but what I love more is my Homeland where I am living and spending the second part of my life.

Hayern Aysor: You have been to different countries and have specialized and improved your knowledge and skills with the best experts. Do you think ophthalmology is developed in Armenia? Is it worth going abroad to receive treatment?

J. S.: Ophthalmology is truly at a high level in Armenia. Armenia has clinics and well-known professionals that are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and meet European standards. It is just that science constantly requires improvement. We are constantly in touch with our colleagues abroad and always follow the news and achievements in the field of ophthalmology. I am content with the choice that I made. If I was born again, I would become an ophthalmologist again. I respect my choice.

Karine Avagyan

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