The pain stops me from working
In 2018, HI carried out a survey to better understand the circumstances of people with disabilities amongst the Syrian refugee populations in Jordan and Lebanon, and the barriers they face in accessing humanitarian aid. Zyad and his family are part of the panel of people interviewed. They fled the war in Syria and came to Irbid in the north of Jordan. This family man suffers from arthritis in the knee, which is particularly incapacitating.
Zyad, a Syrian refugee in Jordan, can no longer travel due to disabling osteoarthritis | © O. Van de Broeck / HI
In Syria, Zyad was an athlete. Today, the pain has left him housebound. The family man spends his day sat in the same position, unable to move without increasing the pain. Simple, everyday tasks including washing have become extremely difficult. He can no longer walk and has to take taxis everywhere which is a significant financial burden for this family which has lost everything: their house and land in Syria have all been destroyed.
No work, no income
Zyad's disability affects the whole family. His wife explains how they struggle to make ends meet: she helps her husband and provides him with the day-to-day care he needs. She also takes care of their youngest daughter who has asthma and tissue damage to her hand. The rest of the time, she works as a cleaner in schools which provides a small income. Two of their sons in their twenties, go from one menial job to another. Zyad can barely stand up. It saddens him that he cannot meet his family's needs.
Support from HI
A few months ago, HI volunteers met Zyad when they were visiting the neighbourhood to identify people with disabilities. Since then, things have changed for Zyad: he has been able to register with the hospital and benefit from physiotherapy sessions which are paid for by HI, along with the transport costs for getting to and from the hospital.
Zyad was first referred to a general practitioner who suspected that he might have fragments of the bombs lodged in his knee. An x-ray showed that Zyad was suffering from a chronic condition affecting his joints; the cartilage in his knee is wearing away. The physiotherapy provided temporary relief and he was able to walk more easily. Unfortunately, his condition has deteriorated, and the pain is worse than ever.
Helping people with disabilities
Zyad has taken it upon himself to inform other people with disabilities about HI's work. He has become the organisation's point of contact for identifying and registering people with disabilities in his neighbourhood.
The study carried out by HI
The study, carried out by HI and iMMAP, found that one Syrian refugee in five has a disability and much more can be done to better include people with disabilities in humanitarian interventions.