“I’m starting to feel like my old self again”
Abu Aïsha is from northern Syria. In June 2015, when his city was under siege, he was hit by shrapnel, leaving him quadriplegic and partially deaf. After meeting Abu Aïsha, Handicap International’s team is supporting his recovery by providing him with physiotherapy sessions and psychosocial support, to help him overcome the trauma of his accident.
Ahmad and Rami during a physiotherapy session with Abu Aïsha. | © Handicap International
“The city was under siege and we couldn’t get hold of anything: water, food, electricity or medication,” recalls Abu Aïsha as he opens up about his accident. “One day, I tried to find some food. I’m the eldest of nine children and I wanted to feed my brothers, sisters and parents. When I went out to get grass and bread, the only food that we could find in our neighbourhood at the time, I was hit by shrapnel from a shelling.”
The shrapnel passed through his left ear and lodged in his neck. Some local people rushed him to a makeshift hospital but, due to the siege, they had no medication to ease the young Syrian’s pain and the doctors were already overwhelmed by the sheer number of casualties.
“One day, the NGOs entered our city and helped the injured leave, and that’s how we escaped the siege with my family.” Ahmad, a social worker, still remembers his first meeting with Abu Aïsha. “He was extremely traumatised by what had happened to him and his condition”. “He was sad, not getting much sleep, and had no self-confidence.” Ahmad and Rami, his physiotherapist colleagues, suggested Abu Aïsha take part in rehabilitation sessions, while the social worker offered to help the young Syrian overcome his trauma. “Over the months, the price of food and medication kept on going up and the situation was getting worse and worse,” explains Abu Aïsha. “I lost a lot of weight. My relatives hardly recognised me. But the hardest thing for me was the fact that I couldn’t help my father meet our family’s needs anymore.”
Abu Aïsha accepted the offer and now takes part in psychosocial support and rehabilitation sessions. He is making progress and gradually recovering some of his mobility. According to physiotherapist Rami: “Abu Aïsha has stronger muscles than when we first met him and he’s getting his balance back. He can walk over short distances now.”
He still has a long way to go before he recovers but every tiny change make a big difference. “I’m starting to feel like my old self again,” he says.