“Families do not have enough to pay for transport to the health centre”
Humanity & Inclusion (HI) physiotherapist Rana Abdel Al explains her work with persons with disabilities in Lebanon since 2019. Among them, many were injured during the war in Syria.
Physiotherapist Rana with a patient | © Photo HI
A disability can exclude a person from their work or community. HI rehabilitation services help people to regain mobility and to get back into employment and social activities.
What is the situation of the Syrians who have been refugees in Lebanon for many years now?
The Syrian refugees in Lebanon are very poor and their situation has worsened in recent months.
They often rent a house, but due to the economic crisis since last year and the COVID 19 pandemic, they can no longer pay the rent and many fear eviction.
Sometimes, the head of the family has the chance get a job… However recently unemployment has skyrocketed and many families now have no incomes.
I see families that reduce their food consumption or do not have the possibility of accessing medical services because, for example, they have to take the bus to go to the clinic and they cannot pay for a ticket… They are desperate.
What are the rehabilitation services that HI provides?
HI supports persons with injuries and disabilities in their neighbourhoods and refugee settlements through outreach teams, providing rehabilitation services at home.
We also deliver sessions at several rehabilitation centres. We have partnered with 2 local organizations that specialise in rehabilitation services, and 4 clinics in the Bekaa region and North Lebanon.
Since January, we have supported more than 400 people including 250 Syrian refugees.
We also supply prostheses and orthotics, donate mobility aids (wheelchairs, walking frames, etc.) and items responding to specific needs (anti-sore mattresses, toilet chairs, etc.) to people with injuries and disabilities as well as to local clinics or NGOs.
In some clinics and community centres we have equipped the rehabilitation rooms with training stairs, rehabilitation treadmills, and much more.
Why are rehabilitation services so important?
If a person has lost a part of their mobility because of a car accident, the violence of war, or something else, physical rehabilitation can help to avoid developing permanent impairments. Other people who have permanently lost some of their mobility need physical rehabilitation to avoid medical complications such as muscle contracture, impaired balance, and restricted joint mobility.
These limit the person’s physical capacity to move and perform physical activities, but many recover a certain level of mobility thanks to a prosthesis, a wheelchair or a walking frame...
What are the kinds of injuries or disabilities you are dealing with?
At the moment I am supporting a young Syrian girl with a spinal cord injury that was caused by a bombing in Syria when she was 2. She is now 9 and up until now was unable to walk.
We have provided her with orthosis, a walking frame and rehabilitation sessions where she has started to learn how to walk.
Soon, she will go to school like any other child of her age. It is a big change in her life.
I have another example: A young man trod on a landmine and lost his two legs.
Since his accident he was isolated from the community. Now he is able walk with two prostheses.
Do you specialise in supporting children?
Absolutely. At a national level, we have a project to include children with disabilities in schools.
I assess the physical condition of around 75 children who cannot go to school because of their disability.
The main goal is to provide them adapted equipment or servicesto make schools accessible to children with disabilities.