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“I will finally be able to go back to school”

Early in the summer of 2015, Shua’a (9) and her family were caught in a bombing raid in Syria, resulting in the amputation of her left foot. Her family now lives in Azraq camp, in Jordan. With Handicap International’s help she will very shortly be fitted with a prosthesis and will be able to walk over longer distances. 

Shua’a and Turkyia, in their caravan.

Shua’a and Turkyia, in their caravan. | © E. Fourt / Handicap International

When Noor, Handicap International’s physiotherapist, appears outside the camp’s caravans, a little girl with a big smile hurriedly hops up to her. Shua’a and her mother waste no time inviting Noor into their home, and both are obviously delighted to see her again. Handicap International’s teams have been taking care of Shua’a since the family arrived in Azraq, and they have got to know the little Syrian girl and her parents very well. Noor asks how everyone is doing, before starting the physiotherapy session. Turkyia, Shua’a’s mother, explains that her daughter is looking forward to going back to school. “She hasn’t been for over a year now,” she explains. “Her prosthesis will help her walk and learn again. It’s all she thinks about.”

At the beginning of last year, the Islamic State group seized control of the city where Shua’a and her family were living in Syria. “We immediately fled to the mountains,” says Turkyia. “We stayed there for a month, but the living conditions were really hard so we decided to head back to the city. One day some helicopters flew over the place where we were taking refuge. We ran through the fields and sheltered under a tree, thinking the bombs would hit houses. But then, barrel bombs started falling on us. My 12-year-old daughter, Shua’a’s big sister, died instantly. My uncle, who was with us, died too. And Shua’a and I were seriously injured.”

Turkyia continues her story as she affectionately caresses her daughter’s hair. “Some local people took us to the hospital. That’s where Shua’a had her foot amputated and they treated me. But a few weeks after the attack, I noticed that my daughter’s injury weren’t healing well. My husband and I decided to flee to Jordan, where she could get better care.” After a wait of several months, the family finally moved to Azraq.

According to Noor: “When she arrived in the camp we couldn’t orthopaedically fit Shua’a directly: we had to wait for her to heal properly. We provided her with physiotherapy sessions to prepare her to be fitted with a prosthesis. Today, we are working a lot on her balance and muscle-strengthening.”

The physiotherapist takes Shua’a by the hand and begins a series of exercises. She teaches her to position her legs correctly before kicking a ball towards her and initiating a small soccer session. Noor also shows Shua’a how to walk over different levels. She wants her to adapt to her new environment as best as she can. Noor also encourages Sana and Abdallah, her sister and brother, to take part in the session, in order to make it more interesting. The three children have a great time doing the exercises the physiotherapist has shown them. “Shua’a has made a lot of progress since we met her,” says Noor. “We recently took her measurements and she is going to be fitted with her first prosthesis within a few weeks.”

Shua’a smiles at Noor. The little girl knows what that means. Soon she will also be able to walk over long distances and to go to school again, which makes her very happy. As the session comes to an end, Shua’a confides to Noor: “I’d like to be a teacher when I grow up.”

 

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