For nearly two months, every night and every morning when he wakes up with the photo of his parents clutched in his hand, Abd al- Rahman cries or screams with pain so intense that not even Fatima, his grandmother, can sooth him.
“He wants me to cover his legs with a blanket so he can’t see the bandages and keeps asking me if his parents are coming back. Abd al-Rahman cries because his injuries hurt him. But his heart is also hurting.”
Fatima breathes deeply as she tell us about that night of February 6 2023, anxious not to break down in front of her grandson.
“We were sleeping when the first earthquake hit. We stayed inside the house; we didn't dare go outside. It was only when the violent aftershocks started that we decided to get out as quickly as we could. But the stairwell collapsed. Abd al-Rahman's parents, two brothers and sister died in the ruins. I also lost my second son, his wife and their children. I still can’t believe it. I have no words to describe what we’ve been through”, explains the little boy’s grandmother, still in shock.
Abd al-Rahman was rescued by local residents before being rushed to hospital by rescue workers. He has fractures in his right leg and left thigh. He also has damage to his kidney and extensive bruising.
HI's partner health professionals have been providing him with physical and functional rehabilitation since the beginning of his hospitalisation, and a daily appointment with a psychologist. It will take him several weeks, or even months, to recover.
"When he arrived at the hospital, Abd al-Rahman was terrified. Even today, he is still deeply affected by what happened. In addition to his rehabilitation exercises, I'm playing games with him to take his mind off things, to make him feel better, working closely with the team of psychologists," explains Fatima, the physiotherapist who is treating him.”
Like nearly 7 million other Syrians, Abd al-Rahman's family were forced to flee their village because of the violence. They settled some 60 kilometres away in the town of Jenderes, in northwestern Syria.