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“They’ve cared for my body and mind”


Na’elah, 44, used to suffer from serious shoulder pains, significantly reducing her mobility. In recent months, she has been receiving rehabilitation care in one of Handicap International’s partner centres in Jordan. The organisation’s assistance to local health facilities in the country is made possible by the support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID). 

Na’elah talks about her recovery with Hamzeh and Manal. | © E. Fourt / Handicap International

The waiting room in Zarqa rehabilitation centre, located in the northeast of the Jordanian capital, is always busy. Every day, this medical facility, at the centre of one of Jordan’s many Palestinian refugee camps, is visited by dozens of patients. “More than 12,000 people live in the camp,” explains Hamzeh, the organisation’s technical adviser. “We support this centre by supplying materials and equipment and we train its employees. It cares for refugees of different nationalities - Palestinians, Syrians, and others – but also Jordanians. Most of the people we help were identified through our community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programme. Volunteers in the camp spot people with health problems and tell them about our free care. The people who live here aren’t rich. Many need physiotherapy but few can pay for it.” Through its Equity Fund programme, Handicap International provides financial support to the centre’s users. The cost of physiotherapy and other services is one of the biggest obstacles to quality care in Jordan.

Na’elah walks into the rehabilitation room. The free services have made a big difference to this mother of 4 children. “My husband is Syrian and money’s short. I used to think physiotherapy was a luxury I couldn’t afford. I’m really grateful for these sessions. I don’t have an easy life but when I see these people helping me - how hard they work to make me feel better - it helps me move on,” she explains with a smile.

Manal, a physiotherapist from the centre supported by the organisation, starts a series of exercises with Na’elah. “I’ve been coming every week since the start of summer,” says Na’elah. “A few months ago, my shoulder froze up and suddenly I couldn’t move. My husband heard about this centre some weeks later and I had my first rehabilitation session soon after.”

Manal smiles and adds: “This is her twentieth session today. She has made a lot of progress!” Na’elah agrees: “When I first came here, I needed assistance with everything. My daughter helped me with daily tasks. I can’t tell you how much Manal and the centre’s team have helped me recover. I can dress myself now and take care of the children again. It might not seem much but I’ve recovered some of my dignity in recent weeks.”

Nae’lah shows the physiotherapist a photo taken at her first session. “I could hardly lift my arm, do you remember? And look at me now!” she says, stretching her fingers towards the ceiling. “They haven’t just restored my mobility, they’ve given me hope again too - that’s what really counts. The centre’s team have cared for my body and my mind. They feel like family now.” The physiotherapy exercises come to an end and Manal says goodbye to Nae’lah. The two women will see each other again in a few days for another rehabilitation session. 

Na’elah fait son entrée dans la salle de réadaptation. Pour cette mère de quatre enfants, la gratuité des services a fait toute la différence. « Mon mari est Syrien et nous vivons avec peu de moyens. Pour moi, la kinésithérapie était un luxe que je pensais ne jamais pouvoir me payer. Je suis extrêmement reconnaissante de bénéficier de ces séances. Ma vie n’est pas facile mais voir le soutien que m’apportent les gens ici, les efforts qu’ils font pour que je me sente mieux, cela m’aide à aller de l’avant », explique-t-elle en souriant.

Manal, kinésithérapeute du centre supportée par l’association, entame une série d’exercices avec Na’elah. « Je viens chaque semaine ici, depuis le début de l’été », indique la Jordanienne. « Il  y a quelques mois, mon épaule s’est bloquée et du jour au lendemain, j’étais complètement immobilisée. Mon mari a entendu parler de ce centre quelques semaines plus tard et j’ai rapidement pu commencer la réadaptation ».

Manal sourit et ajoute : « C’est la vingtième session aujourd’hui. Elle a fait d’énormes progrès ! » Na’elah confirme : « Quand je suis arrivée ici, je ne pouvais rien faire seule. Ma fille m’aidait pour tous mes gestes quotidiens. Les mots me manquent pour expliquer à quel point Manal et l’équipe du centre m’ont aidée dans ma convalescence. Je peux m’habiller sans l’aide de personne maintenant, je peux à nouveau m’occuper de mes enfants… Cela peut paraître simple mais c’est un peu de ma dignité que j’ai retrouvée, au cours des dernières semaines. »

Nae’lah montre à la kinésithérapeute une photo prise lors de sa première séance. « Je pouvais à peine lever le bras, tu te rappelles ? Et regarde maintenant ! », dit-elle en tendant les doigts vers le plafond. « Ici, je n’ai pas uniquement récupéré mes mouvements, c’est avant tout l’espoir qui est réapparu dans ma vie. L’équipe du centre a soigné mon corps mais aussi mon esprit. Je les considère désormais comme des membres de ma propre famille. » Les exercices de kinésithérapie touchent à leur fin et Manal salue Nae’lah. Les deux femmes se reverront dans quelques jours, pour une nouvelle séance de réadaptation. 


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