“I just want him to live a normal life”
Ahmed is eight years old. He was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects his body movement and muscle control. In 2016, after having endured over five years of war in Syria, he and his family decided to flee to Jordan. They now live in Azraq refugee camp, where Handicap International provides Ahmad with physiotherapy sessions.
Ahmed is eight years old. He was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects his body movement and muscle control. In 2016, after having endured over five years of war in Syria, he and his family decided to flee to Jordan. | © E. Fourt / Handicap International
“We are a family of six, he’s my little brother. Last year, we decided to flee Syria because of the situation there. We had to leave Ahmed’s wheelchair behind and to carry him all the way to this country,” explains Jamila.
Jamila recalls that one of the organization’s teams came to see them and offered to provide her brother with a new wheelchair and physiotherapy sessions. Ahmed’s parents accepted and the young boy soon started to take part in rehabilitation activities. It was the first time in his life that Ahmed was provided with physiotherapy care.
“Before meeting Handicap International, my brother could not walk or stand. Now, he’s able to do such things, with the help of a walker,” adds the sister.
An inclusive approach
Today, Ahmed comes to Handicap International’s rehabilitation centre for a special session. Ansam, one of the organization’s physiotherapists, explains that they are organizing an open group activity: “We do it regularly, with most of our beneficiaries. On top of helping them with rehabilitation and psycho-social support, we also want to increase their social interactions.” The exercise is extremely important, especially for children like Ahmed.
“Some of them do not get to go to school and it is essential to make them interact with other children of the same age. We don’t want them to feel like they’re somehow different or outcasts: a big component of our action consists in making them feel included,” adds Ansam.
A dozen children have now entered the room and the group activity starts. Bashayer, social worker, initiates the session by making every child introduce himself. Then, Ansam launches a series of recreational activities, to make them all interact. Every game they play has a meaning. Some activities are meant to work as rehabilitation exercises, while others are created to increase the sensation of belonging and the social skills of the kids.
At the end of the session, Ahmed declares: “I laughed a lot, we should do it more often!” Jamila explains that his brother loves mingling with other people. Ahmed has never been to school, because of his condition. So he just takes every chance he gets to spend time with other children or even adults.
“Whether or not we end up going back to Syria one day, I just wish he could live a normal life. Find a job, get married, have children… Because he deserves all the happiness in the world,” explains Jamila, affectionately.