“I heard him scream and immediately ran to him”
Three-year-old Hamad is from Syria. After fighting broke out in his country, his family took refuge in Jordan. Last year, Hamad was injured in a domestic accident, leaving him with severe burns and unable to move his fingers. Handicap International (HI) has been providing the boy with rehabilitation care for several months.
Abdul Rahman et Hamad, at the end of a reeducation session. | © E. Fourt / Handicap International
When Abdul Rahman arrives at Hamad’s home, he’s met by the little boy’s mother, Nada. “He’s watching television with his brothers,” she explains as she ushers HI’s physiotherapist into the living room. Hamad is sitting on the floor watching cartoons and smiling. To look at him with his brothers, you wouldn’t think Hamad is different in any way. But a year ago, he had to spend nearly a month in intensive care at a hospital in Amman, Jordan. Nada explains what happened: “One day, I was heating water to wash my children, as I usually do. My son was still very young and he wasn’t watching where he was going. He tripped and tipped the pan of boiling water over himself. I heard him scream and immediately ran to him.” Hamad’s mother wipes the tears from her eyes. Although it was several months ago now, just talking about the accident is still very hard for her.
Hamad was rushed to hospital with serious burns. Over the next few weeks, although doctors did everything they could to help him recover, he still had difficulties moving his hands. “He began doing rehabilitation exercises at the hospital, but once he got home it was difficult for us to keep on going back again,” explains Nada. “We live far away and we don’t have enough money to pay for public transport. The doctor suggested we contact you, because he said your organisation would help us.”
A short while later, one of HI’s mobile teams visited Hamad to assess his needs. “We immediately began to give him at-home rehabilitation care,” explains Abdul Rahman as he starts a series of physiotherapy exercises with Hamad. “And when we can’t be here, we cover the family’s travel costs so they can come to the centre where our partner works. This financial support is vital: without it, a lot of people simply wouldn’t be able to receive physiotherapy care. This is especially true for refugees in Jordan who are, in general, particularly vulnerable.”
“The doctor told me my son had to have rehabilitation care if he was to regain full mobility in his hands. So I pay close attention when Abdul Rahman explains the exercises I need to do with Hamad every day,” explains Rana. “It’s really important that parents get involved when we’re helping a child recover,” says Abdul Rahman. “Hamad will need a few more sessions before he can move his hands again properly, but I’m not worried about him. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t get better now. Rana is helping her son with his rehabilitation exercises and he never makes a fuss about doing them.”
Before he leaves, Abdul Rahman blows up one of the plastic gloves he uses during his physiotherapy sessions and draws a smiley face on it to make Hamad smile. The boy giggles when he sees his new toy. It should help to keep him busy until his next rehabilitation session.
Learn more: Implemented by HI in Jordan in 2017, this project provides support to various health centres in the country, by donating equipment and training their employees in rehabilitation techniques. This project gives priority to a community-based rehabilitation (CBR) approach. HI identifies volunteers from communities and camps who themselves then identify potential beneficiaries, assess their needs and direct them to health centres where they can receive free treatment. Handicap International’s equity fund programme also allows the organization to provide direct financial support to people who use the centre. The organisation pays for their transport when they need to travel for rehabilitation care. This is extremely important as the cost of services such as physiotherapy and transportation are among the biggest obstacles to accessing quality care in Jordan.