“I was at work that day,” Ali begins.
“To start with I heard the sound of helicopters then rockets falling from above. I saw people’s faces change. Everyone seemed to be terrified. We ran to where the rockets had fallen and we started to help the dozens of injured people. But a second bomb followed the first. And that was when I fainted.”
Ali continues: “When I woke up I was in hospital. I could only see out of my left eye and my body was riddled with shrapnel. My leg, arm and toes were broken and I was in a lot of pain.”
“That day I didn’t just lose my eye, I also lost my home, my memories and my dreams.”
Ali stayed in hospital for two and a half months before being taken to a different facility for an operation. “The doctors treated my injuries but they weren’t able to save my eye,” he says.
Traumatized by what had happened to him and devastated by the news, Ali decided to return to his family in Syria. But his village had been ambushed by armed groups in the meantime and he had to leave with his family to a camp for displaced people, not far from the border.
“When we arrived in the camp, I was still suffering a lot from my injuries,” recalls Ali. “I couldn’t move around and I wasn’t able to meet my family’s needs. It took a lot of strength and determination to overcome my problems. The support of my relatives was vital at that point,” he explains to Handicap International’s team.
“I can still remember the day you arrived in my tent. You told me you could help me get better.”
Handicap International’s team provided Ali with mobility aids, physical therapy, and psychosocial support. Over time, Ali began to regain the capacities he had lost. After just a few sessions, he was able to leave his tent and return to work.
The fruit and vegetable seller was delighted to return to his original job. “That’s the moment I started being a father again. I was able to meet the needs of my children and I didn’t need to ask other people to lend me money.”
Ali has a smile back on his face. “You’ve helped me overcome my depression, you’ve given me hope and independence again," he explains. "My only wish now is to return home one day…”
Like Ali, more than six million people are currently displaced inside Syria as a result of the conflict that has torn his country apart.
Since early 2013, Handicap International has deployed rehabilitation teams and partners in Syria, where they've provided more than 25,000 physical therapy sessions to people with injuries and disabilities. Learn more about our work in Syria.