“When we ran to help the injured, we were caught in a second blast”
Loai was seriously injured in a bomb blast, in the early days of the Syrian conflict. Still suffering from the sequelae of the attack and now a refugee with his family in Jordan, he benefits from the support of Handicap International (HI), which provides him with physiotherapy care.
Loai in his garden. | © Elisa Fourt / HI
Loai is sitting in the middle of a courtyard that runs along the side of his house, waiting for the HI team. Abdul Rahman and Ibaa, a physiotherapist and social worker, are expected to arrive at any moment, and it’s not long before they appear in front of his house. They greet the Syrian man with a warm smile and he invites them into the small apartment he shares with his wife and three children. “This is pretty much the extent of my world now,” he says. “This small courtyard, my plants, the house. I can’t get much further.”
Although it has been five years since he sustained his injuries, Loai still suffers from the sequelae of his accident. When asked how he got his multiple fractures, his voice trembles with emotion: “It was in 2012, at the start of the conflict in our country. Our neighbourhood was caught in the fighting. A missile landed on a building and we all ran to help the injured. But a few minutes later the bombing started again. A lot of people were killed instantly. I survived but I was seriously injured. By the time I was back on my feet, my wife and I had decided to leave. Living in those conditions was just too hard. I wanted to protect my children from the horrors of war.”
Abdul Rahman begins a new physiotherapy session with Loai, who continues with his story as he does his rehabilitation exercises. “When we arrived in Jordan, I went to register with the UNHCR. I was still having problems getting around, so my son came along to help me. A man saw me leaning on him, and advised me to contact you. He said you could help me. Three days later, your team came to my home. You gave me crutches, a toilet chair, and everything I needed to make life a little easier, and to be less dependent on my wife and children. I’m really grateful for everything you’ve done for me.”
The physiotherapy sessions were a big help to Laoi. “I couldn’t even brush my own hair. Now I can move around again. The exercises are hard, but I know it’s for my own good and the fact that I’m making progress encourages me to carry on.”
Loai hopes to recover completely from his injuries and to provide for his family again. “In a lot of countries, people think refugees do nothing all day and just wait around for help from humanitarian organisations. But that’s far from the truth. All I want is to get back on my feet, to work again and to get some of my dignity back. These exercises have given me hope and shown that it’s not just a dream.”
After the physiotherapy session, Loai returns to the courtyard. His wife and children are sitting next to him. “We like spending time here,” he says. “We chat about our old life in Syria all the time, and we watch the plants grow. We think about the future and the past. Both are intrinsically linked. And we hope that one day, if things work out in the end, we’ll be able to go home again.”
 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is responsible for registering refugees when they arrive in a country.