A Refugee's Dream: To Walk Again


Last October, 53-year-old Khaled was in his home in Syria when it was hit by a bomb. The impact caused severe injuries to his right leg. Unfortunately, the hospitals in the town where Khaled was living were overwhelmed by other patients injured by the bombings that day, and he was turned away without receiving treatment. Twenty days later, after developing gangrene, Khaled returned to the hospital where his leg was amputated.

Fearing for his family’s safety, Khaled prepared to evacuate his wife, son, and seven daughters. They did not have enough money for the entire family to flee immediately, so Khaled sent his wife to Lebanon with his son and three of his daughters. Two months later, after saving a little money, he finally managed to leave Syria with his four other daughters and reunite with his family in Lebanon.

Since May 2013, Khaled has been living with his family in a tent in a makeshift camp in Jibyanin, to the south of Beqaa Valley. They live on loans and are trying to scrape together enough rent money ($50 per month) to make it through the rest of the year. From time to time, his oldest daughters manage to find a day’s work, although they don’t earn enough to feed the family. They have had to do without electricity and Khaled’s wife bakes the family’s bread on a rudimentary charcoal stove.

Before Handicap International’s teams in Lebanon discovered Khaled in June and supplied him with a bed and crutches, he spent his days lying on the floor of an empty room.  “When I see other people walking around, it reminds me of the past and that makes me sad,” says Khaled. “I feel like a wreck, a burden on my family. I’d eat sand if it would bring my leg back. The only thing that counts for me is being able to stand up and walk without help.”

Handicap International has been working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon since June 2013, using mobile rehabilitation teams to reach those most in need of help. Since being identified in June, Khaled has been followed by one of Handicap International’s physiotherapists who helps him perform physical rehabilitation and muscle-building exercises.

Khaled has been diligently practicing so that he can be fitted with a prosthetic leg, which will allow him to walk again. “I can’t wait to walk with everyone else to show them that I’m the same as they are,” says Khaled.