“I’ve regained hope and my independence”
Ali lives in northern Syria in a camp for displaced people, on the border with Turkey. In January 2016, he was injured in an attack on his village. Handicap International is helping Ali recover by providing him with physiotherapy care, psychosocial support and donations of mobility aids.
Ali in the tent where he sells fruits. | © Handicap International
Handicap International’s team is visiting Ali today. Delighted to see them, Ali asks the organisation’s professionals to sit down and then decides to share his story with them. “I was at work that day,” he begins when everyone has settled in. “To start with I heard the sound of helicopters then rockets falling from above. I saw people’s faces change. Everyone seemed to be terrified. We ran to where the rockets had fallen and we started to help the dozens of injured people. But a second bomb followed the first. And that was when I fainted.”
Visibly still affected by what has happened to him, Ali continues his story: “When I woke up I was in hospital. I could only see out of my left eye and my body was riddled with shrapnel. My leg, arm and toes were broken and I was in a lot of pain. That day I didn’t just lose my eye, I also lost my home, my memories and my dreams.”
Ali stayed in hospital for two and a half months before being taken to a neighbouring for an operation. “The doctors treated my injuries but they weren’t able to save my eye,” he says. Traumatised by what had just happened to him and devastated by the news, Ali decided to return to his family in Syria. But his village had been ambushed by armed groups in the meantime and he had to leave with his family to a camp for displaced people, not far from the border.
“When we arrived in the camp, I was still suffering a lot from my injuries,” recalls Ali. “I couldn’t move around and I wasn’t able to meet my family’s needs. It took a lot of strength and determination to overcome my problems. The support of my relatives was vital at that point,” he explains to Handicap International’s team.
“I can still remember the day you arrived in my tent. You told me you could help me get better.” Handicap International’s team offered to provide Ali with physiotherapy care, psychosocial support and mobility aids to help him move around more easily. Ali agreed and, over time, he began to regain the capacities he had lost. After just a few sessions, he was able to leave his tent and return to work. The fruit and vegetable seller was delighted to return to his original job: “That’s the moment I started being a father again. I was able to meet the needs of my children and I didn’t need to ask other people to lend me money.”
Ali has a smile back on his face and he is keen to thank the team before they leave. “You’ve helped me overcome my depression, you’ve given me hope and independence again. My only wish now is to return home one day…” Like Ali, more than six million people are currently displaced in Syria as a result of the conflict that has torn his country apart.
 OCHA, September 2016.