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“I hope my baby won’t have to live through this war” Nabeel, 29


Um Nabeel, 29, lives with her family in south Syria. In 2012, as she was assisting people injured in a bomb attack, she was shot and severely injured. After several months of bed rest, Um Nabeel can now move around again, with the help of Handicap International’s local partner.

Um Nabeel and her family

Um Nabeel and her family | © Handicap International

Um Nabeel is one of those everyday heroes whose story is usually never told. From the start of the Syrian crisis, this mother of four children dedicated her life to helping the  victims of the conflict. But four years ago, everything changed in an instant. “It was in December 2012,” says Um Nabeel. “I had gone out to help people injured in a bomb attack close to my home. While I was helping remove people from the rubble, someone shot me in the head. I was taken to hospital but my injuries were so serious they transferred me to another facility, in Jordan.”

Although Um Nabeel’s accident was years ago, she still suffers from her injuries. She needs regular physiotherapy care to recover. Under the admiring gaze of her family and her physiotherapist, Mohammad, Um Nabeel continues her story: “I was unconscious for a month, and when I woke up, I was totally paralysed. I was also partially deaf. I started attending physiotherapy sessions in the hospital, where I stayed for months, then I continued with the sessions once I got back to Syria.” With the assistance of its local partner, Handicap International provided Um Nabeel with a toilet chair, crutches and orthoses to make it easier for her to move around. After several at-home physiotherapy sessions, Um Nabeel decided to do her next sessions at the rehabilitation centre. Thanks to her new orthoses and her daily exercises, she can now move around again.

Despite constant migraines and her hearing problems, Um Nabeel is determined to get better. She wants to move around as easily as she did before the accident so she can help other people again. Like the many people helped by Um Nabeel, her home was hit by a bomb and she has now been displaced with her family to another village in Syria. But these problems simply seem to make Um Nabeel even more determined to get back on her feet as soon as possible.

Pregnant with her fifth child, she is unfailingly optimistic. “I hope my baby won’t have to live through this war,” she says. Um Nabeel and her husband do not yet know if the baby is going to be a girl or a boy, but it doesn’t seem to matter to her. “I just want our living conditions to improve and for the war in Syria to end. I want a wonderful future for my family.”

Nizar, Um Nabeel’s husband, seems to share his wife’s opinion. Since the accident, he has devoted all of his time to taking care of her and their children. Although they still go to school, their education is often interrupted by bombings. Hiding their fears from their children, Um Nabeel and her husband dream of an end to this seemingly interminable war. As determined as ever, if there is one lesson Um Nabeel wants her children to learn, it is to never give up hope and to always look to the future, no matter how hard life gets and regardless of the difficulties you encounter along the way.

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