“Things got much too dangerous for us in 2012, so my children and I fled to Lebanon where my husband was already working,” says Hiba, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. “I had to carry my seven-year-old daughter Dalal in my arms, because she cannot walk due to her cerebral palsy. My eldest son had to do all of the talking on the road to get us to Lebanon. The journey was exhausting.”
Once in Lebanon, the family settled in a second-floor apartment in an unfinished building. Conditions were hard for the whole family, but especially for Dalal, who didn’t leave the building for a year and a half. “Dalal can’t walk by herself, so I have to carry her and it hurts my back,” says Hiba.
One of Hiba’s sons recently contacted Handicap International to tell local staff that Dalal needed help. Thanks to donors, Handicap International was able to send a physical therapist and a social worker, Mohammed and Zeinab, to evaluate Dalal. After meeting her, the team decided that she would need a wheelchair and physical therapy to help her move around more easily.
When Dalal saw her colorful new wheelchair for the first time, her face lit up with a huge grin. Hiba was just as happy. “She’ll now be more independent,” says Hiba. “And, she’ll finally be able to play with the other children.”
After some muscle-strengthening exercises, Mohammed helps Dalal sit in the chair. She tries out her wheelchair in the living room, and then practices pushing it: “I do this exercise because it’s a fun way of helping Dalal strengthen her leg muscles,” says Mohammed.
Mohammed and Zeinab show Hiba how to get her daughter’s wheelchair over the doorstep and through the entrance. The family and Handicap International’s team then take Dalal outside. She is nervous at first with but then begins exploring her surroundings. Her family members cheer with delight.