Mariam is among the millions of Syrians who have fled their country to seek refuge in Jordan or Lebanon. As the Syrian conflict enters its 12th year, Humanity & Inclusion continues to work alongside Mariam and other refugees with disabilities.
Mariam and her family arrived in Jordan 10 years ago. She and her mother came seeking medical care for injuries sustained in a bomb attack. Mariam lost her left leg and her right leg was badly injured. Her mother lost an eye and needed facial reconstruction surgery.
They fled Syria a few months after the tragedy, traveling at night to escape aerial attacks on the way. Mariam used crutches when she could, but when the terrain was too rough, her father carried her.
Mariam, now 20, lives in Irbid, Jordan, with her parents and her brothers and sisters.
Remembering the attack
Mariam vividly remembers the day of the bombing. It was in 2012. She was only 9 years old.
She was playing with other children in the street in front of her grandfather's shop. Her mother was inside and the rest of the family was at a friend’s house.
All of a sudden, two planes flew overhead. Everyone panicked and rushed for cover. Mariam ran inside the shop and sheltered under the counter.
But a missile tore through the concrete wall of the shop. The debris of the explosion hit her mother in the face. She lost her right eye and suffered a skull fracture. Mariam’s left leg was torn off in the explosion and her right leg was badly injured. A second missile landed directly on top of Mariam, but it didn’t explode. Her grandmother was killed.
People rushed to rescue the wounded. She was driven to the hospital in the next city. In the chaos and panic, she was separated from the rest of my family.
“The whole way, the people in the car kept telling me to stay awake and not go to sleep,” Mariam recalls. “I remember the whole thing, as I didn’t pass out until I reached the hospital."
When they arrived at the hospital, the people driving the car left her at the entrance on the pavement and drove off. The last thing she saw before losing consciousness was a bright light.
When Mariam woke up the next day, an adult she didn’t know was in the room. It was the owner of a sweet shop opposite the hospital, who had carried her inside when the car left her.
She told him the name of her mother and gave him her uncle’s phone number—the only one she knew—which helped him locate her family.
The amputation was poorly performed, leaving the edges of the bone jagged, then stitched up and covered with just a gauze and bandage. She was released after a month.
A few months later, the whole family fled Syria for Jordan where doctors corrected her amputation. She received her first artificial limb from HI when she was 10, followed by rehabilitation sessions.
“I was very close to the staff at HI,” Mariam says. “I was always a playful child then. As I grow, every new prosthesis I’ve received since I was a child makes me feel reborn again."
Mariam still has nerve damage in her right foot, but she is able to walk with her artificial leg.
“Everyone is homesick, but going back to Syria is out of the question,” Mariam’s father explains. “It takes only one incident to learn from a mistake. We would never be able to survive mentally if we went back and there was another incident. We can’t just throw ourselves back into the fire.”
A love for sewing
Mariam has developed a love for sewing. Right now, it's mostly a hobby.
“It helps me get rid of my negative energy,” she says. “I spend my time watching tutorials on YouTube to improve my skills.”
Recently, HI provided Mariam with vocational training. After she completed the 4-month sewing course at Ejwan Academy in Irbid, HI gave her a new sewing machine.
"When I’m older, I hope to set up my own sewing business,” she adds.
HI’s team is counseling Mariam’s family about an opportunity for her to work in a clothing factory to earn money. Her father is supportive of her working, but he worries about her taking public transport every day.