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After Syria earthquake, Israa walks again


Israa, 6, was seriously injured in the earthquake that rocked Syria on Feb. 6. Physical therapists and mental health specialists have helped her recover.

A little girl sits in a hospital bed playing with balloons during a visit from a clown

Israa Fahed Al Abood, injured during the earthquake on Feb. 6, 2023, at Al-Rahma hospital. | © B. Sweid / HI

'We were asleep'

It was 4 a.m. when Israa's whole family was woken by the earthquake. Their house caved in on them.

"We started running for the door, but suddenly it went dark... I realized we were buried under the rubble."

Trapped in the debris, Israa cried out and called to her mother, who tried her best to reassure her. But there was no sound from Israa's father or brothers. After several hours, Israa and her mother were rescued. Her father and brothers didn’t survive.

HI’s response

Israa was immediately taken to the Al Rahma hospital, one of Humanity & Inclusion's partners in northwest Syria. She was in great pain from a hemorrhage in her abdomen and unable to move.

Israa underwent surgery but suffered numerous complications, including acute fever, respiratory problems and muscle weakness.

HI's teams noted the little girl’s general weakness and difficulty moving around. Israa was traumatized and didn't want to interact with those around her. She was suffering greatly from the loss of her father and brothers, got angry easily and cried often. When she was angry, she refused to speak to her mother and pulled violently on her hair.

The members of HI’s psychological support team took her hand. They used puppets to break the ice and communicate with her. They also used drawing and coloring and told her stories to ease her anxiety and encourage her to communicate again.

The team also encouraged her to interact socially with the people she loves. As well as her family, her teacher came to visit her on numerous occasions.

A rapid recovery

Israa is still having physical therapy sessions with HI to help her walk independently and carry out everyday activities, such as eating, dressing and playing.

But she is out of the hospital now and living with her mother and uncle in a displaced persons camp. She is surrounded by her family and friends and has gone back to school.

She will always carry the scars of what happened on Feb. 6, but her family is there to support her and help her through.


Date published: 06/08/23


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