Fifteen-year-old Ahmed was injured in his right thigh just above the knee during a demonstration on the border between Gaza and Israel. He can remember the incident and the pain very clearly, and is still in a state of shock. “I felt something hit my leg really hard and then I saw the blood,” he explains. “I screamed and collapsed. I lost all feeling in my body for a few seconds.”
Ahmed is one of four children and lives in the Khan Younis district in the southern Gaza Strip. His father does odd jobs and his mother cleans for a living. The family lives in a disadvantaged neighborhood and doesn’t have access to public transportation. They have to pay for a taxi to take Ahmed to hospital – a considerable expense for this family on a low income.
Many of Ahmed’s cousins live with him in the apartment, so he has very little privacy. Since he was injured, Ahmed spends his time on an old settee in the living room – the same spot where he’s visited by Humanity & Inclusion’s mobile rehabilitation team.
Our team is waiting for the doctor’s go-ahead before starting his rehabilitation sessions, but we’ve already started providing him with psychological support. These sessions are important because people like Ahmed, who are disabled as a result of an injury, sometimes go through a period of depression, made worse by the fear that they may never fully recover. This psychological support is also essential when it comes to motivating patients to do their rehabilitation exercises.
“I want my old life back,” Ahmed says. “I can’t move around by myself at the moment. I can’t go to the toilet like I used to. I need to ask my brother to come with me. It’s embarrassing. I want to get rid of the external fixture on my leg.”
Assisted by HI’s mobile team for the last two weeks, Ahmed is feeling less depressed. However, he will require even more support during his recovery to ensure he receives the proper rehabilitation care needed to fully restore his mobility.
The Gaza crisis and HI’s response
Since demonstrations began last March on the border between Gaza and Israel, at least 128 people have been killed, and more than 13,900 people injured, half of whom required hospitalization, according to the World Health Organisation’s data through June 3. Among the people injured, 3,778 have live ammunition gunshot injuries, 1,191 are children, and 2,604 had lower limb injuries.
Hospitals are overwhelmed and patients need to leave almost immediately, making it difficult to guarantee the post-operative care they need. Patients may, as a result, develop infections or complications potentially leading to the onset of disabling sequelae or a permanent disability.
To respond to this emergency, HI and its local partners have set up 10 mobile teams composed of rehabilitation professionals, psychologists, and social workers. They will provide casualties and their families with rehabilitation care and psychological support.