Syria: Hope After Losing Limbs

It's difficult to describe the carnage that led seven-year-old Ammar and his family to flee Syria and take refuge in Jordan.

Earlier this year, during a bout of intense fighting in Syria, Ammar and his family sought refuge indoors but the house in which they hid was hit by a shell. Ammar lost his right arm and leg. The explosion also killed three of his young cousins and seriously injured two other members of his family.

Since escaping Syria last August, Ammar has been living in safety in Irbid, Jordan, with two of his sisters, his parents, and his grandmother in a rented apartment. Handicap International, which has been working with Syrian refugees in Jordon and Lebanon since May, recognized Ammar's serious condition and took steps to ensure the boy would be able to walk again. Ammar was fitted with prosthesis for his leg and a Handicap International outreach team visits him several times a week for physical therapy sessions.

Every time Ammar receives a visit from Maha, a physiotherapist, and Ahmad, a community worker, he greets them with a broad smile, even though he knows that they are there to make him work hard. Thanks to the exercises he does with Maha, he is gradually getting used to the prosthesis and thinking of it as part of his body. As his injury heals, Ammar will be able to do more and more exercises standing up, and, eventually, walk and even run without difficulty.

“Ammar has already experienced worse things than most of us could ever imagine,” says Maha. “Our priority is to show him that we're there for him, that he's not alone. I can see that his leg is still a little painful, but he's very brave and wants to walk again as quickly as possible.”

Ahmad, the community worker, is also present during each visit and has been forging close ties with Ammar and his family. When Ahmad asks him what he'd like to do when he grows up, Ammar looks shy at first, but prompted by his grandmother, he replies: “A pilot! An airline pilot!”

For refugee families, the support provided by Handicap International's teams is of paramount importance. “We know that we're not alone,” explains Ammar's father. “We have someone to talk to about our problems, someone who can help us find solutions.”